12th October 2022 by

150th anniversary of the birth of Ralph Vaughan Williams

Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872 –1958) was an English composer, born in Down Ampney, Gloucestershire, whose works include nine symphonies, five operas, music for film, ballet and stage, several song cycles, church music and works for chorus and orchestra, written over sixty years. Strongly influenced by Tudor music and English folk song, his output marked a decisive break in British music from its German-dominated style of the 19th century.

In a long and productive life, hardly a music genre has been left untouched or failed to be enriched by Vaughan Williams’ work. 21st-century musicians who have acknowledged Vaughan Williams’s influence on their development include John Adams, PJ Harvey, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Harrison Birtwistle, Anthony Payne, Wayne Shorter, Neil Tennant, Richard Thompson (a particular favourite and regularly seen in concert, Ed) and Mark-Anthony Turnage.

The popularity of the composer’s most accessible works, in particular the Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis and The Lark Ascending, has never been higher, with radio polls consistently voting these as listeners’ favourites, while the Symphony No.5 is one of the most popular of British symphonies with the Romanza theme voted as one of the ‘World’s Most Beautiful Melodies’.

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