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Ralph Vaughan Williams

Born: 1872. Died: 1958. Lived in: England

Composer, Conductor. He is considered the most important and influential British musician of his generation. Vaughan Williams' music displays a distinctly English character derived from his country's folk and Renaissance tradition, which he absorbed into a very personal style. His nine symphonies constitute one of the outstanding achievements of the 20th Century repertory. Ralph (pronounced "Rafe") Vaughan Williams was born at Down Ampney, Gloucestershire, the son of a clergyman. On his mother's side of the family he was related to Charles Darwin. He studied at the Royal College of Music and at Cambridge, followed by private instruction with Max Bruch in Berlin (1897). Despite his talent and training he was slow to develop as a artist because he had little sympathy for the Wagner-dominated musical scene of the time. While at the RCM in 1895 he formed a lifelong friendship with fellow student Gustav Holst, and the two tackled the problem of creating a new home-grown musical idiom. Vaughan Williams hit upon a solution through his discovery of old English folk and church music. From 1903 he gathered and published over 800 country tunes while also serving as editor of "The English Hymnal" (1904 to 1906), a collection of sacred vocal works from the 16th Century to the early 1900s. He contributed several original pieces to this set, in which he experimented with Elizabethan modal harmony within a modern framework.

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Recordings and DVDs

Displaying 1-8 of 8 items.


Atlanta Symphony Orchestra & Chorus : Vaughn Williams - A Sea Symphony : 00  1 CD : Robert Spano : 80588

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra & Chorus : Vaughn Williams - A Sea Symphony

This recording presents a poignant compilations disc of songs, laments, chants, and single movements from large sacred works-all conducted by the late Robert Shaw-that evoke peace, reflection and remembrance. All of the thirteen tracks in this beautiful collection are taken from a wide variety of previously released recordings made for Telarc by the late Robert Shaw, the Dean of American choral conductors. The featured compositions include single movements from large works for chorus and orchestra (such as the Requiems of Mozart, Faure, and Durufle) as well as works for unaccompanied voices (such as the "Ave Maria" from Quattro Pezzi Sacri by Verdi.) The recording opens with the serene sounds of Gregorian chant: six verses of the Stabat Mater dolorosa, followed by the "Fac ut ardeat" movement from the Stabat Mater by Poulenc. Secular works featured on Elegy include Beethoven's Elegiac Song; the Schicksalslied (Song of Destiny) by Brahms; a movement from Hindemith's poignant When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd; and the "Bois muertri" from Poulenc's Un soir de neige (Night of Snow). The recording closes, fittingly, with Schoenberg's eloquent a cappella choral work, Friede auf Erden (Peace on Earth).

Songlist: A Song for All Seas, All Ships, On the Beach at Night, Alone, Scherzo: The Waves, The Explorers

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8534c | 1 CD | $15.95 | A Cappella


Cardiff Festival Choir : Carols of Vaughn Williams : 00  1 CD : GRF 4072

Cardiff Festival Choir : Carols of Vaughn Williams

Listeners who love the sound and mood of the most traditional Christmas carols and hymns should be delighted with this collection of choral arrangements made by Ralph Vaughan Williams. The majority of the pieces are traditional English carols, many of which the composer collected himself as part of his research on folk song. For several of the carols where only a text survives, he wrote the melody. A few of the selections may be familiar to American audiences and a few more to fans of English choral music, but by and large these carols will be obscure to general audiences. Their tone tends to be gently contemplative rather than exuberantly celebratory; they're more similar to "Away in a Manger" than "Joy to the World." Vaughan Williams' intent was to create music that could be sung by the average church congregation or church choir, so the arrangements are simple and traditional. Some are arranged for unison singing, but most are in four parts.

Songlist: Hereford Carol, While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night (unspecified tune) , Snow in the Street ("From far away we come to you"), carol for chorus , Song of the Crib , The Holy Well, carol for chorus or voice & piano (Traditional Carols from Herefordshire No. 1 & No. 2; 2 versions) , The Salutation Carol , Blake's Cradle Song ("Sweet dreams, form a shade o'er my lovely infant's head"), carol for chorus , O Little Town of Bethlehem, carol (arr. from English traditional, "Forest Green") , Wassail Song ("Wassail, wassail, all over the town"), carol for chorus ("Gloucestershire Wassail") , The Miraculous Harvest, carol for chorus or voice & piano (Traditional Carols from Herefordshire No. 10) , How Far Is It to Bethlehem? (Children's Song of the Nativity) (Tune: Stowey) (English) , The Golden Carol ("Now is ChristĂmas y-come"), carol for chorus , Wither's Rocking Hymn ("Sweet baby, sleep! What ails my dear?"), carol for chorus , Behold the great Creator makes, hymn ("This Endris Nyght") , Christmas Hymn ("Now Blessed by Thou, Christ Jesu"), for baritone or tenor, chorus & orchestra in F major (Choral Hymns No. 2) , The truth sent from above, carol for chorus or voice & piano (Traditional English Carols No. 6) , And All in the Morning ("On Christmas Day"), carol for chorus or voice & piano (Traditional English Carols No. 1) , On Christmas Night, carol for chorus or voice & piano ("Sussex Carol"; Traditional English Carols No. 2)

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2054c | 1 CD | $12.95


Choir of Clare College : Ralph Vaughan Williams: Folk Songs of the Four Seasons : 00  1 CD : David Willcocks : 5060158190102 : ALBCD 010

Choir of Clare College : Ralph Vaughan Williams: Folk Songs of the Four Seasons

Both the Folk Songs of the Four Seasons and this arrangement of In Windsor Forest are world premiere recordings. The Folk Songs of the Four Seasons is a substantial work by Vaughan Williams, over 40 minutes long, for women's chorus and orchestra. It is the most significant of his works never to have been recorded in any format. The Folk Songs of the Four Seasons was commissioned by the Women's Institute and first performed in 1950. The work has a Prologue and four sections: Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. The coupling is the rare arrangement for women's voices, by Guthrie Foote and Vaughan Williams, of the Cantata In Windsor Forest based on choruses from the opera Sir John in Love. This new Albion recording is issued to mark the 90th birthday of Sir David Willcocks on 30 December, 2009. Sir David is world famous for his recordings for EMI and for his work at King's College, Cambridge and the Bach Choir. For Sir David to record another major Vaughan Williams disc at the age of almost 90 is remarkable in itself and will ensure national and international interest in this recording.

Songlist: Prologue. To the Ploughboy, Spring. Early in the Spring, Spring. The Lark in the Morning , Spring. May Song , Summer. Summer is a-coming in / The Cuckoo, Summer. The Sprig of Thyme , Summer. The Sheep Shearing , Summer. The Green Meadow , Autumn. John Barleycorn , Autumn. The Unquiet Grave , Autumn. An Acre of Land, Winter. Children's Christmas Song, Winter. Wassail Song, Winter. In Bethlehem City, Winter. God Bless the Master , The Conspiracy (Sigh no more, ladies), Falstaff and the Fairies (Round about in a fair ring-a), Wedding Chorus (See the Chariot at hand) , Epilogue (Whether men do laugh or weep)

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6172c | 1 CD | $19.95 | Primarily a cappella


Finzi Singers : Holst / Vaughan Williams Choral : 00  1 CD : Paul Spicer : 9425

Finzi Singers : Holst / Vaughan Williams Choral

As directed by Paul Spicer, this English mixed ensemble has devoted themselves to the promulgation of British choral works. The relatively obscure Gustav Holst composed during the turn of the century, whereas Vaughan Williams began his career slightly later, by collecting English folk songs, ultimately accumulating over eight hundred! Later, Williams wrote various pieces for royal occasions and the like, such as "The Souls Of The Righteous" to dedicate the Battle Of Britain chapel. Sometimes dark and mournful ("Valiant For Truth"), hearty and powerful ("Sing Me The Men"), eerie and captivating ("Full Fathom Five") or gentle and pure ("O Lady, Leave That Silken Thread"), this collection is always uncompromised in excellence.

Songlist: The Dark-Eyed Sailor, The Springtime Of The Year, Just As The Tide Was Flowing, The Lover's Ghost , Wassail Song, Ave Maria, Op. 9b, Valiant For Truth, O Vos Omnes, The Evening-Watch, Op.43, No 1, O Taste And See, The Souls Of Righteous, This Have I Done For My True Love, Op. 34, No. 2, Nunc Dimittis , Sing Me The Men, Op. 43, No. 2, Full Fathom Five, The Cloud-Capp'd Towers, Over Hill, Over Dale, O Lady, Leave That Silken Thread, Soft And Gently, The Autumn Is Old, Winter And The Birds, The Turtle Dove

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6472c | 1 CD | $15.98 | Primarily a cappella


Finzi Singers : Howells / Williams - English Romantic Choral Music : 00  1 CD : Paul Spicer : 9019

Finzi Singers : Howells / Williams - English Romantic Choral Music

Here is another excellent record by the Finzi Singers in a series which is proving as valuable as anything in the current lists. They have standards in their choice of music as in their manner of performance, and everything they have undertaken in their recordings has been in a tradition of good workmanship and good taste. This present programme, with its alternation of works by Howells and Vaughan Williams, illustrates the individuality of both composers as well as the shared possession of a culture deeply loved and richly imbued. All are finely caught in these performances, not least the aeroplanes in Harry Bickett's imaginative registration and skilful playing. Choral tone, the work of soloists drawn from the choir, recorded sound, written presentation, all are admirable features of a highly recommendable disc.

Songlist: Prayer to the Father of Heaven, A Sequence for St Michael, A Vision of Aeroplanes, The House of the Mind, Lord, Thou hast been our Refuge, Requiem:, I Salvator mundi, II Psalm 23, III Requiem aeternam (1), IV Psalm 121, V Requiem aeternam (2), VI I heard a voice from heaven

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6895c | 1 CD | $15.98 | Primarily a cappella


Holst Singers : Over Hill, Over Dale : 00  1 CD : 034571167770 : CDA66777

Holst Singers : Over Hill, Over Dale

Vaughan Williams's small-scale choral works are a comparatively lesser-known aspect of his art. The majority of these compositions arose from his folksong-collecting activities at the turn of the century; this recording brings some of his finest folksong arrangements together with other a cappella works. They cover the whole of the composer's long career. The Holst Singers are the foremost amateur choir in London. Under their musical director Stephen Layton they regularly perform on Radio 3 and Classic FM and in the major concert venues. The choir is joined for several songs by the renowned soloists Ian Bostridge and Michael George.

Songlist: Loch Lomond, Full Fathom Five, The Cloud-Capp'd Towers, Over Hill, Over Dale, Alister McAlphine's Lament, An Acre Of Land, The Seeds Of Love, Ca' The Yowes, The Dark-Eyed Sailor, The Spring Time Of The Year, Just The Tide Was Flowing, The Lover's Ghost, Wassail Song, The Winter Is Gone, Mannin Veen, Bushes And Briars, Down Among The Dead Men, Sweet Day, O Mistress Mine, The Willow Song

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6185c | 1 CD | $19.95 | A Cappella


Laudibus : Ralph Vaughn Williams - A Cappella : 00  1 CD : Mike Brewer : 34074

Laudibus : Ralph Vaughn Williams - A Cappella

Mike Brewer and his award-winning chamber choir Laudibus have unearthed some rare and precious gems in this recording of a cappella choral music by one of England's best-loved composers. Little-known works both early and late nestle alongside repertory staples such as the glorious Mass in G minor in a program that puts Vaughan Williams' indebtedness to both the sacred and secular instincts of his Elizabethan predecessors on display.

Songlist: The Souls of the Righteous, Greensleeves, Three Shakespeare Songs , Prayer to the Father of Heaven, Mass in G minor , O Vos Omnes, Ca' the yowes, Love Is a Sickness, Three Elizabethan Part Songs, Silence and Music, Hearts Music

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2064c | 1 CD | $15.95 | A Cappella


Quink Vocal Ensemble : Songs and Elegies : 00  1 CD : CHR 72501

Quink Vocal Ensemble : Songs and Elegies

The talented Dutch vocal ensembles perform the works of Gerald Finzi and Ralph Vaughn Williams. Delightful!

Songlist: Time , Come away, death , Ring out your bells , Love is a sickness , Rest , The unquiet grave , Heart's Music , Linden Lea , Fain would I change that note , Alister Mc. Alpines lament , Silence and music , Life a right shadow is , This world a hunting is , This life which seems so fair , I praise the tender flower , I have loved flowers that fade , My spirit sang all day , Clear and gentle stream! , Nightingales , Haste on, my joys! , Wherefore to-night so full of care

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6801c | 1 CD | $15.95 | A Cappella

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