Gustav Holst and Ralph Vaughan Williams — Two Friends In Search of English Music

Today’s pro­gramme was inspired by the recent BBC doc­u­men­tary on two of Britain’s best-known com­posers, Ralph Vaugh­an Williams and Gus­tav Holst. Life­long friends, the pair went on walk­ing tours across the Eng­lish coun­try­side and sought out tra­di­tion­al Eng­lish folk songs and Ear­ly Music, lead­ing to land­mark com­po­si­tions that epit­o­mised the “Eng­lish Sound” of the first part of the 20th Cen­tu­ry.

Ralph Vaugh­an Williams (left) (12 Octo­ber 1872 – 26 August 1958) works include operas, bal­lets, cham­ber music, sec­u­lar and reli­gious vocal pieces and orches­tral com­po­si­tions includ­ing nine sym­phonies, writ­ten over six­ty 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. His work ranges from the ethe­re­al Fan­ta­sia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis to Sin­fo­nia Antar­ti­ca, based on his music for the film Scott of the Antarc­tic.

Gus­tav Theodore Holst (right) (21 Sep­tem­ber 1874 – 25 May 1934) is best known for his orches­tral suite The Plan­ets and A Som­er­set Rhap­sody, he com­posed a large num­ber of oth­er works across a range of gen­res. His dis­tinc­tive com­po­si­tion­al style was the prod­uct of many influ­ences, Richard Wag­n­er and Richard Strauss being most cru­cial ear­ly in his devel­op­ment. The sub­se­quent inspi­ra­tion of the Eng­lish folk­song revival of the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry, and the exam­ple of such ris­ing mod­ern com­posers as Mau­rice Rav­el, led Holst to devel­op and refine an indi­vid­ual style.

We’ll be hear­ing some of the best-known works of the two com­posers, plus some less-well-known com­po­si­tions. In addi­tion we’ll hear set­tings of tra­di­tion­al folk tunes by a selec­tion of oth­er com­posers.

Today’s pro­gramme is pre­sent­ed by Elrik Mer­lin.  Click here to start your play­er if your brows­er is set up to pass streams to an exter­nal play­er. 

You can also lis­ten via TuneIn, either with their web site or via the TuneIn App.

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