Vaughan Williams

Eric Saylor


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Oxford University Press Inc
30 September 2022
ISBN: 9780190918569
336 pages

From the publisher

A new biography of which paints the most well-rounded and factually accurate portrait of the composer to date Ralph Vaughan Williams ranks among the most versatile, influential, and enduringly popular British musicians of his era. Throughout his wide-ranging career-as composer, conductor, editor, scholar, folksong collector, teacher, author, administrator, and philanthropist-Vaughan Williams worked tirelessly to improve the standards and quality of British musical life. His dedicated work ethic and fastidious attention to musical detail helped him forge a compelling and original expressive idiom grounded in a profound understanding of musical history and tradition, popularized in concert staples like the Tallis Fantasia, The Lark Ascending, A London Symphony, the Songs of Travel, and the Serenade to Music. Drawing upon both recent scholarship and newly accessible scores and correspondence, author Eric Saylor interweaves in Vaughan Williams an exploration of the composer's life - including new insights about his early career, military service in the Great War, and relationships with the women he loved and married - with chapters surveying his enormous body of music, spanning hymn tunes to operas, keyboard etudes to solo concerti, wind band music for amateurs to perhaps the finest symphonic cycle of the twentieth century. The resulting portrait reveals Vaughan Williams's complex artistry and dynamic personality, a portrayal often at odds with the avuncular persona of "Uncle Ralph" familiar to the public. This contemporary reassessment of the composer's life and works provides a concise and engaging overview of both, positioning Vaughan Williams as an artist of rare skill, sensitivity, and human insight.