Posted by: secretperson | February 15, 2008

The Man Who Set England to Music

Hilary Davan Wetton asks in the Telegraph “Why is Ralph Vaughan Williams not honoured?”

It is the 50th anniversary of the death of Ralph Vaughan Williams this year, one of England’s greatest composers. He was born, like me, in Gloucestershire but lived also in Surrey and studied in Cambridge. He volunteered, age 40, for the Ambulance Service in World War One, as a private, despite his age and class. Vaughan Williams recorded, and therefore saved, much English folk music. This was at a time when rural music, passed down by tradition was dying out, and RVW himself collected over 800 songs that may otherwise have been lost forever.

Vaughan Williams’ ‘The Lark Ascending’ was voted Classic FM’s most popular piece by listeners last year. The Telegraph article tries to claim him for Britain (as the Telegraph would!), so I recommend also this Independent piece, which gave me the title of my blogpiece, and quite rightly says of Ralph Vaughan Williams

there is no composer more English.


  1. I prefer “Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis” but love Lark Ascending too.

    I’m still incandescent with rage about Elgar being replaced by a Scot on the new £20, mind you it is fun defacing all those £20’s.

  2. Yeah they have their own notes, three of them! To be honest I am more of a Holst man, but it annoys me trying to claim such an English composer as ‘typically British’.

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