From The Library… Ralph Vaughan Williams

in Daily Programme

by Elrik Merlin on Thursday, 22 November, 2007

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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