Almost fifty years since his passing, the music of Ralph Vaughan Williams continues to captivate audiences around the world, evoking the sound and spirit of folksong, and the image of rural landscape. In Vaughan Williams on Music, we read the composer in his own words, as he pursues two related ambitions: to create his own musical language, and to make early twentieth-century England a musical nation. Music lovers, students, and researchers alike will find in this volume a substantial collection of the composer's writings which either went unpublished or have been unavailable since their initial publication. The book contains 102 items written by the composer between 1897 and the year of his death, 1958, including articles for musical magazines, transcripts of broadcasts, obituary notices, and program notes. This wide-ranging material illuminates Vaughan Williams's work as a composer, and highlights his numerous other roles as an active supporter of amateur music-makers, a leader in the folksong revival, educator, performer, campaigner for English music, and polemicist.
By addressing a variety of topics, Vaughan Williams reveals the complex and volatile political, musical, and cultural contexts in which he worked over a period of six decades. In these circumstances, Vaughan Williams demonstrates the breadth of his knowledge and the depth of his understanding, and his commitment to communicating with a wide audience. His writings are purposely accessible to reach this audience, permeated with central themes of originality, folksong, a sense of history, and the importance of self-expression. Moreover, the collection reveals the emergence of Vaughan Williams's aesthetics of music during the early 1900s, as he came to terms with the legacy of Brahms and Wagner in order to develop his personal musical idiom. Vaughan Williams on Music is a significant resource for scholars of both British music and the history of British culture, as well as an enjoyable read for all who love Vaughan Williams's music.show more