A service of Cincinnati Public Radio  

Ralph Vaughan Williams:
Christmas Carols in Classical Music

In celebration of the Christmas season, some classical compositions that have Christmas carols in them.

Other shows about Ralph Vaughan Williams:
About Ralph Vaughan Williams
Musical Fantasies
Turn of the 20th Century English Composers
Winter in Music

Download this month's activity sheet

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. Who is featured in several pieces of classical music?

Father Christmas

Santas Reindeer


The Three Kings

Singing Angels

2.Who wrote a song in honor of Johannes Gutenberg?

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Ludwig van Beethoven

Felix Mendelssohn

JS Bach

Robert Schumann

3. What Christmas song uses the folk tune Greensleeves?

Hark the Herald Angels Sing

What Child is This?

Angels We Have Heard on High

Silent Night

Joy to the World


Talk to us
We love to hear your comments on Classics for Kids.

Get the Classics for Kids Volume 1 & 2 CD set for your family

Home | This Week's Show | Past Shows | Composers | Games | Music | More | For Grownups
On the Radio | Events | Links | Contact Us
Teachers | Parents | About Classics for Kids | Privacy Policy
©2017, Cincinnati Public Radio, Inc.