Williams, Ralph Vaughan
Ralph Vaughan Williams was born in Down Ampney, a village near Cricklade in Gloucestershire in 1872. At the turn of the century, he was known as a composer of a few songs. Nevertheless, his song Linden Lea became a favorite of many singers, while his Stevenson cycle Songs of Travel garnered him a massive reputation. In 1908, he went for three months to Paris to study with Ravel. He was the acknowledged leader of the post-Elgar generation after his A Sea Symphony became an outstanding success at the 1910 Leeds Festival. His first opera, which he had completed in 1914, was Hugh the Drover, set in the Cotswolds during the Napoleonic Wars. Vaughan Williams' one-act opera The Shepherds of the Delectable Mountains was part of his lifelong preoccupation with Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress. He personified the pioneering spirit of English music in the 20th century and was an inspiring encourager of the young. He refused all honors except the O.M.C. and continued to conduct at the Leith Hill Festival and elsewhere until his death in 1958. He wrote four symphonies (among them the Sinfonia Antarctica of 1952-3, a re-working of music for the film Scott of the Antarctic).
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