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Ralph Vaughan Williams:
About Ralph Vaughan Williams

Ralph Vaughan Williams was one of the most important 20th century English composers. He spent years traveling the country collecting English folk songs, writing them down, and publishing them. Many of those melodies wound up in his music.

Music heard in this episode:
Vaughan Williams: The Running Set
Vaughan Williams: London Symphony
Vaughan Williams: Norfolk Rhapsody
Vaughan Williams: Folk Song Suite - Seventeen Come Sunday
Vaughan Williams: Wasps Overture
Vaughan Williams: Sea Songs - Quick march
Vaughan Williams: For All the Saints
Vaughan Williams: Tuba Concerto
Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on Greensleeves

Other shows about Ralph Vaughan Williams:
Musical Fantasies
Turn of the 20th Century English Composers
Christmas Carols in Classical Music
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. Vaughan Williams fathers family came from what country?






2.Who was Vaughan Williams' first music teacher?

His Father

His Mother

The Church Organist

His Grandfather

His Aunt

3. Vaughan Williams wrote a concerto for which instrument?







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