From The Library… Ralph Vaughan Williams

Ralph (pro­nounced “Rafe”) Vaugh­an Williams (1872–1958) is one of Britain’s best-loved com­posers. His works con­sis­tent­ly head charts of clas­si­cal music ‘hits’ and he is per­haps best know for The Lark Ascend­ing, which appears in today’s pro­gramme.

Oth­er peren­ni­al favourites include The Eng­lish Folk Song Suite: Vaugh­an Williams was an avid folk music col­lec­tor and his love of folk music influ­enced his entire life: he began col­lect­ing folk songs in Eng­land in 1903 and con­tin­ued to do so until the advent of the First World War, col­lect­ing over 800 songs, car­ols and singing games. At the time of his death in 1958 he was Pres­i­dent of the Eng­lish Folk Dance and Song Soci­ety.

In addi­tion, Vaugh­an Williams com­posed a live­ly arrange­ment of British Sea Songs which will be famil­iar to old­er British lis­ten­ers from its use as the theme music to the broad­cast adap­ta­tion of the Bil­ly Bunter sto­ries, and also as a start­up theme by Anglia Tele­vi­sion along with an excerpt of Hän­del’s Water Music Suite.

The com­pos­er also wrote a num­ber of film scores, one of the best known being his music for the 1948 film Scott of the Antarc­tic star­ring John Mills, much of which he incor­po­rat­ed into his sev­enth sym­pho­ny, Sin­fo­nia Antar­ti­ca, with its deeply mov­ing, eerie musi­cal vis­tas. Vaugh­an Williams in fact wrote a total of nine sym­phonies (which he did not num­ber until the 9th was com­plet­ed), includ­ing his first three, The Sea Sym­pho­ny, The Lon­don Sym­pho­ny and the Pas­toral Sym­pho­ny, all of which we will hear today.

Ralph Vaugh­an Williams’s out­put was prodi­gious and today’s pro­gramme can real­ly only scratch the sur­face of this great com­poser’s work.

• This pro­gramme is pro­duced by Radio Riel in con­junc­tion with the Cale­don Library in Sec­ond Life, and pre­sent­ed by Elrik Mer­lin. For more infor­ma­tion on the Cale­don Library, cur­rent exhibits and the work of Sec­ond Life ref­er­ence libraries in gen­er­al, please vis­it the Cale­don Library Web site, or one of their loca­tions in-world.

• You can lis­ten to the pro­gramme now at, or sim­ply vis­it any Cale­don Library branch in-world and press Play on your embed­ded music play­er.

Please note that some of the meta­da­ta from works played in today’s pro­gramme is quite com­plex. As a result the ‘Now Play­ing’ wid­get at the top of this page may not dis­play the cor­rect piece. Winamp or a more sophis­ti­cat­ed meta­da­ta read­er should decode it cor­rect­ly.

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