Ralph Vaughan Williams OM (/ˈrf ˌvɔːn ˈwɪljəmz/ 12 October 1872 – 26 August 1958) was an English composer. His works include operas, ballets, chamber music, secular and religious vocal pieces and orchestral compositions including nine symphonies, written over nearly fifty years. Strongly influenced by Tudor music and English folk-song, his output marked a decisive break in British music from its German-dominated style of the 19th century.

Vaughan Williams was born to a well-to-do family with strong moral views and a progressive social outlook. Throughout his life he sought to be of service to his fellow citizens, and believed in making music as available as possible to everybody. He wrote many works for amateur and student performance. He was musically a late developer, not finding his true voice until his late thirties; his studies in 1907–08 with the French composer Maurice Ravel helped him clarify the textures of his music and free it from Teutonic influences.

Vaughan Williams is among the best-known British symphonists, noted for his very wide range of moods, from stormy and impassioned to tranquil, from mysterious to exuberant. Among the most familiar of his other concert works are Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis (1910) and The Lark Ascending (1914). His vocal works include hymns, folk-song arrangements and large-scale choral pieces. He wrote eight works for stage performance between 1919 and 1951. Although none of his operas became popular repertoire pieces, his ballet Job: A Masque for Dancing (1930) was successful and has been frequently staged.

Two episodes made notably deep impressions in Vaughan Williams's personal life. The First World War, in which he served in the army, had a lasting emotional effect. Twenty years later, though in his sixties and devotedly married, he was reinvigorated by a love affair with a much younger woman, who later became his second wife. He went on composing through his seventies and eighties, producing his last symphony months before his death at the age of eighty-five. His works have continued to be a staple of the British concert repertoire, and all his major compositions and many of the minor ones have been recorded.

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Album + Compilation

Year Title Artist RatingReleases
1997 The Lark Ascending Ralph Vaughan Williams 1
1997 Fantasia on Greensleeves Vaughan Williams, Delius, Elgar, Warlock, Butterworth; Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Neville Marriner 2
1998 The Ultimate Collection Vaughan Williams 1
1998 Britten: Variations on a Theme by Frank Bridge / Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis / Stravinsky: Jeu de cartes Benjamin Britten, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Igor Stravinsky; Philharmonia Orchestra, Herbert von Karajan 1
1998 Barber / Bartók / Vaughan Williams Samuel Barber, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Béla Bartók; Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Robert Shaw, Carmen Pelton, Richard Clement, Nathan Gunn 1
1999 Holst: Suites / Vaughan Williams: Folk Song Suite / Toccata Marziale Holst, Vaughan Williams; Frederick Fennell 1
1999 Orchestral Works Vaughan Williams; Marriner, Boult, Wordsworth 1
2000 English String Music Elgar, Vaughan Williams; Sir John Barbirolli 1
2000 The Complete Symphonies / Orchestral Works Vaughan Williams; Sir Adrian Boult 1
2001 British Composers: Vaughan Williams Ralph Vaughan Williams 1
2001 Holst: The Planets / Vaughan Williams: Fantasias Gustav Holst, Ralph Vaughan Williams; Philharmonia Orchestra, Leonard Slatkin 1
2002 Pastoral Symphony Ralph Vaughan Williams; Richard Hickox, London Symphony Orchestra, Rebecca Evans 1
2002 The Nine Symphonies / Job Vaughan Williams; Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir & Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Vernon Handley 1
2003 The 9 Symphonies Vaughan Williams; London Symphony Orchestra, André Previn 1
2003 The Lark Ascending: The Timeless Music of Vaughan Williams Ralph Vaughan Williams 1
2004 English Song Ralph Vaughan Williams, Sir William Walton, Gustav Holst, Sir Charles Villiers Stanford, Peter Warlock, Sir Arnold Bax, Roger Quilter, Benjamin Britten; Philip Langridge, Felicity Lott, Simon Keenlyside, Della Jones, Christopher Maltman, Anthony Rolfe Johnson 1
2005 The Lark Ascending / Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis Vaughan Williams; Hugh Bean, Sir Adrian Boult, Sir John Barbirolli 1
2007 The Symphonies Vaughan Williams; BBC Symphony Orchestra, Sir Andrew Davis 1
2008 Vaughan Williams: The Collector's Edition Ralph Vaughan Williams 5 1
2008 Williams: Symphony no. 4 / Sibelius: Symphony no. 4 Ralph Vaughan Williams, Jean Sibelius; BBC Symphony Orchestra, Sir Malcolm Sargent 1
2011 The Nine Symphonies Vaughan Williams; London Philharmonic Orchestra, New Philharmonia Orchestra, Sir Adrian Boult 1
2013 Complete Symphonies Vaughan Williams; London Philharmonic Orchestra, Bernard Haitink 1
2013 ICON: Paavo Berglund - The Bournemouth Years Smetana, Dvořák, Grieg, Sibelius, Vaughan Williams, Shostakovich; Paavo Berglund 1
British Composers: Vaughan Williams / Finzi / Holst Vaughan Williams, Finzi, Holst; Sir David Willcocks, Stephen Cleobury, Richard Hickox, Sir Adrian Boult 1
Fantasia on Greensleeves / English Folk Song Suite Vaughan Williams; Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Neville Marriner 1
Holst: The Planets / Vaughan Williams: Serenade to Music Holst, Vaughan Williams; André Previn, Sir Adrian Boult 1
Works for Orchestra Vaughan Williams, Delius; The Philadelphia Orchestra, Eugene Ormandy 1

Album + Compilation + Live

Year Title Artist RatingReleases
2002 Vaughan Williams: Symphony no. 8 / Bax: Oboe Quintet / Rawsthorne: Street Corner Overture / Elgar: Land of Hope and Glory Vaughan Williams, Bax, Rawsthorne, Elgar; Kathleen Ferrier, Evelyn Rothwell, Hallé Choir and Orchestra, Sir John Barbirolli 1

Album + Live

Year Title Artist RatingReleases
1988 A Pastoral Symphony (No. 3) / Oboe Concerto Vaughan Williams; London Symphony Orchestra, Bryden Thomson 2
2007 Overture to "The Wasps" / A Sea Symphony Vaughan Williams; London Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Chorus, Richard Hickox 1
2009 Bach: Christen, atzet diesen Tag / Mendelssohn: Vom Himmel hoch / Vaughan Williams: The First Nowell Bach, Mendelssohn, Williams; Lisa Milne, Ruxandra Donose, Andrew Staples, Christopher Maltman, London Philharmonic Orchestra & Choir, Vladimir Jurowski 1
2009 Elgar: Enigma-Variationen / Vaughan Williams: Symphonie Nr. 6 Elgar, Vaughan Williams; Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Sir Colin Davis 1
2010 BBC Music, Volume 18, Number 11: Serenade to Music / Symphony No. 3 "A Pastoral Symphony" Vaughan Williams; BBC Symphony Orchestra, Sir Adrian Boult 1
2011 Music for a Time of War Charles Ives, John Adams, Benjamin Britten, Ralph Vaughan Williams; Oregon Symphony, Carlos Kalmar, Sanford Sylvan 1
2013 Symphony no. 5 / Symphony no. 7 "Sinfonia antartica" Ralph Vaughan Williams; Sheila Armstrong, London Philharmonic Orchestra & Choir, Bernard Haitink 1
2013 Vaughan Williams: Symphony No. 6 / Bridge: The Sea Ralph Vaughan Williams, Frank Bridge; BBC Symphony Orchestra, Sir Adrian Boult, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Martyn Brabbins 1
2014 Symphony no. 4 Vaughan Williams; London Symphony Orchestra, Sir Colin Davis 1

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