Ralph Vaughn Williams

Ralph Vaughn Williams

Ralph (pronounced "Rafe") Vaughan Williams was born in Gloucestershire in 1872, and was arguably the greatest British composer of the 20th century.
A champion of British cultural heritage in his own way, he died at the age of 85 in 1958, and his ashes are fittingly interred in Westminster Abbey.
Vaughan Williams received his training from Hubert Parry and Charles Villiers Stanford, both composers influenced by Brahms. Early Vaughan Williams works have their moments of Brahms and sometimes Wagner, but it is also very original, due to Vaughan Williams' interest in English folksong (he was a major collector). His original pieces and arrangements of British folksongs and hymn tunes are some of the most songful and durable in the English language.

Vaughan Williams influences are diverse. Stravinsky, Brahms, Parry, Debussy, Ravel, Bach, Byrd, and Hindemith -- and yet his style remained unique. He absorbed French impressionism ("In the Fen Country," String Quartet No. 1) and studied for a short time with Ravel (who called him "the only pupil who does not write my music"). But then he came into his own with the incidental music to a production of Aristophanes' "The Wasps," the song cycle "On Wenlock Edge," and the classic "Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis." These works show a Vaughan Williams where his voice is unmistakably his own.

Vaughan Williams composed in almost every genre. He is one of the great setters of English poetry, and vocal music comprises a large part of his output. Major works include "Five Mystical Songs," "Merciless Beauty," "Sancta Civitas," "Serenade to Music," "Hodie," "10 Blake Songs," and "Dona nobis pacem." His several operas have not become stage staples: "Hugh the Drover," "The Poisoned Kiss," "Riders to the Sea," "Sir John in Love," and "Pilgrim's Progress." He is one of the greatest contributors to church music in the 20th century.

At the turn of the century he was among the very first to travel into the countryside to collect folk-songs and carols from singers, notating them for future generations to enjoy. As musical editor of The English Hymnal he composed several hymns that are now world-wide favourites (For all the Saints, Come down O love Divine). Later he also helped to edit The Oxford Book of Carols, with similar success.

Vaughan Williams volunteered to serve in the Field Ambulance Service in Flanders for the 1914–1918 war, during which he was deeply affected by the carnage and the loss of close friends such as the composer George Butterworth. Before the war he had met and then sustained a long and deep friendship with the composer Gustav Holst. For many years Vaughan Williams conducted and led the Leith Hill Music Festival, conducting Bach’s St Matthew Passion on a regular basis. He also became professor of composition at the Royal College of Music in London. The symphonies, in particular, contain much variety and range, with each representing a unique approach to the symphonic form. All have great emotional as well as spiritual power.

Choral Discography

Finzi Singers: Vaughn Williams / Holst

The Dark-Eyed Sailor
The Springtime Of The Year
Just As The Tide Was Flowing
The Lover's Ghost
Wassail Song
Ave Maria, Op. 9b
Valiant For Truth
O Vos Omnes
The Evening-Watch, Op.43, No 1
O Taste And See
The Souls Of Righteous
This Have I Done For My True Love, Op. 34, No. 2
Nunc Dimittis
Sing Me The Men, Op. 43, No. 2
Full Fathom Five
The Cloud-Capp'd Towers
Over Hill, Over Dale
O Lady, Leave That Silken Thread
Soft And Gently
The Autumn Is Old
Winter And The Birds
The Turtle Dove

As directed by Paul Spicer, this English mixed ensemble has devoted themselves to the promulgation of British choral works. The relatively obscure Gustav Holst composed during the turn of the century, whereas Vaughan Williams began his career slightly later, by collecting English folk songs, ultimately accumulating over eight hundred! Later, Williams wrote various pieces for royal occasions and the like, such as "The Souls Of The Righteous" to dedicate the Battle Of Britain chapel. Sometimes dark and mournful ("Valiant For Truth"), hearty and powerful ("Sing Me The Men"), eerie and captivating ("Full Fathom Five") or gentle and pure ("O Lady, Leave That Silken Thread"), this collection is always uncompromised in excellence.

6472 CD $15.98

Finzi Singers: Vaughn Williams / Howells

Prayer to the Father of Heaven
A Sequence for St Michael
A Vision of Aeroplanes
The House of the Mind
Lord, Thou hast been our Refuge
I Salvator mundi
II Psalm 23
III Requiem aeternam (1)
IV Psalm 121
V Requiem aeternam (2)
VI I heard a voice from heaven

Here is another excellent record by the Finzi Singers in a series which is proving as valuable as anything in the current lists. They have standards in their choice of music as in their manner of performance, and everything they have undertaken in their recordings has been in a tradition of good workmanship and good taste. This present programme, with its alternation of works by Howells and Vaughan Williams, illustrates the individuality of both composers as well as the shared possession of a culture deeply loved and richly imbued. All are finely caught in these performances, not least the aeroplanes in Harry Bickett's imaginative registration and skilful playing. Choral tone, the work of soloists drawn from the choir, recorded sound, written presentation, all are admirable features of a highly recommendable disc.

6895CD $15.98

St Thomas Choir of Men and Boys: Vaughan Williams / Kodaly

Missa Brevis:
Introitus - Maestoso
Kyrie - Andante
Gloria - Allegro
Credo - Allegro moderato
Sanctus - Larghetto
Bendictus - Tranquillos
Agnus - Adagio
Ite, missa est - Maestoso
Mass in G Minor
Kyrie - Slow
Gloria in excelsis - Moderato
Credo - Con moto
Sanctus, Osanna I - Lento, Moderato maestoso
Benedictus, Osanna II - Moderato tranquillo
Agnus Dei - Moderato

Hungary's Zoltan Kodaly (1882-1967) and England's Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958 ) were contemporaries who composed beautiful, dramatic Christian sacred music. NYC's Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys brings us examples of the best work of the two men, the 8 movements of Kodaly's "Missa Brevis" and the 6 movements of Williams' "Mass in G Minor." Now 75 years old, the Mass has long been a masterpiece of the first order, calling for no formal analysis. An extraordinary interplay of solo voices and choir, this powerful revival of Tudor church music places the listen at the very center of a medieval cathedral choir. "Missa Brevis," written by Kodaly in the middle of WWII, is a dramatic sacred piece that carries us aloft with the main theme of the Kyrie, finally bringing us back to a quieter space with "Sanctus Larghetto," "Benedictus—Tranquillo, Larghetto. Beautiful, stunning music performed by the pride of New York City, the Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys.

6920CD $15.98

Robert Shaw Chorale: Samuel Barber/ Bela Bartok / Vaughn Williams

O Thou Who Art Unchangeable
Lord Jesus Christ, Who Suffered All Life Long
Father In Heaven, Well We Know That It Is Thou
Father In Heaven! Hold Not Our Sins Up Against Us
Agnus Dei
Beat! Beat! Drums!
Dirge For Two Veterans
Angel Of Death
O Man Greatly Beloved

Barber's Prayers of Kierkegaard was commissioned by the Koussevitsky Foundation in 1942, but the composer did not complete the work until January, 1954. It is a setting, in the form of a single-movement cantata, of four prayers by the Danish theologian and philosopher S¿ren Kierkegaard (1813-1855). Robert Shaw gave the American premiere of Bart?k's Cantata Profana at Carnegie Hall in 1952. For this recording, he has used a refined version of the English translation of the text he made for that premiere performance. Vaughan Williams's Dona Nobis Pacem was intended as a warning of the threat of war in Europe in the mid-1930s. The texts are taken from the poetry of Walt Whitman, the Bible, the Latin Mass, and from a speech made in the British House of Commons during the Crimean War in the 1850s by John Bright

6236 CD $15.98

No review yet

Choral - Home | Mens Choral | Womens Choral | Mixed Choirs | Early Music
Childrens Choir
| Boys Choirs | Girls Choirs | Choral arrangements | Choral Christmas | Director's resources
African | English | Canadian | Bulgarian | Estonian | Hungarian | Scandinavian | Russian | Latin American
Spirituals | Madrigals | Budget Choral titles | DVDs | Complete choral list

RSS Feed - Choral New Releases

Site Map | A Cappella News | Regional Newsgroups | RSS a cappella feeds

To find a specific song on any recording (or to find recordings by group name or CD title),
pick the search method and type the item you are searching for here:

By Song Title
By Artist Name
By Title
By Music Category

    or use our Power Search for more search options

All Rights Reserved   All Content, page design, CGI Copyright © United Singers International