Sunday, October 12, 2014

Ralph Vaughan Williams: Landscapes In Sound

The English composer, Ralph Vaughan WIlliams, was born on this day in 1872. The brief introduction to his biography appearing on the Ralph Vaughan Williams Society website says all that need be said about this beloved interpreter of the musical themes of England:

[He] is arguably the greatest composer Britain has seen since the days of Henry Purcell. In a long and extensive career, he composed music notable for its power, nobility and expressiveness, representing, perhaps, the essence of ‘Englishness’.

I suspect the quality of music education in the public schools, if the curriculum exists at all, is not nearly as comprehensive today as it was in the 1950's. In that decade Vaughan Williams was the beloved dean of composers in much of the Western world. In the half century following his death he remains a popular force in the music of our lives. Here are some likely familiar examples that renew themselves on every hearing:

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