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Ralph Vaughan Williams:
Musical Fantasies


Originally, a musical fantasy was a piece that instrumentalists made up as they went along. Eventually, fantasies evolved into pieces that composers built out of various melodies they liked -- like the Scottish folk tunes that Max Bruch put into his Scottish Fantasy for violin and orchestra.

Other shows about Ralph Vaughan Williams:
About Ralph Vaughan Williams
Turn of the 20th Century English Composers
Christmas Carols in Classical Music
Winter in Music

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About Ralph Vaughan Williams
10/12/1872 - 8/26/1958
Born in Great Britain

Ralph Vaughan Williams came from the village of Down Ampney, where his father was a minister. His mother was the niece of Charles Darwin, the scientist who came up with the theory of evolution. When Ralph (pronounced "Rafe" in England) was a kid, he already knew he wanted to be a composer.

Vaughan Williams was dedicated to collecting and studying English folk music to preserve it for the future. Traditionally, folk songs are passed on orally -- that is, someone learns a song by listening to another person sing it. Vaughan Williams traveled around England, writing down folk songs. He collected over 800 of them! Those folk songs had such a big influence on him that many of them ended up in his compositions.

Because of his interest in old tunes, Vaughan Williams was asked to revise the official English Hymnal. One of the most famous orchestra pieces Vaughan Williams composed is based on a tune from that hymnal - a tune by 16th century Brittish composer Thomas Tallis.

Among the pieces Vaughan Williams wrote were nine symphonies, and a number of concertos, including some for instruments you wouldn't expect to be featured as soloists harmonica and bass tuba!

See other composers born in Great Britain

 

This Week's Quiz:

1. The term fantasy was first used for musical compositions in what era?

Classical

Renaissance

Impressionist

Baroque

Modern


2.Who was the first to add a chorus into his musical fantasy?

Mozart

Haydn

Bach

Beethoven

Copland


3. Vaughan Williams Fantasia on Greensleeves follows what musical form?

ABCA

ABABCCAB

ABA

ABCD

AAB



 

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