Vaughan Williams with a cute kitty, your argument is invalid.

Vaughan Williams- he’s not a name you hear as often as Beethoven, Bach, or Mozart, but that doesn’t mean he was a bad composer. In fact, he wrote some pretty awesome stuff. And today is his birthday, so it’s a good time to learn more about him and his music.

Ralph Vaughan Williams was an English composer born in 1872, but most of his music was published in the 20th century. He belongs to the Modern Era of composers, with the likes of Gustav Holst (who happened to be his classmate and friend) and Aaron Copland. His music is very lyrical and melodic, which is the musician’s way of saying that it’s easy on the ears. This is characteristic of English music, it’s something that you can enjoy while you relax with a cup of tea, such as his composition The Lark Ascending.

Vaughan Williams composed 9 symphonies before he died in 1958. By the way, there is something odd about composers after Beethoven only composing 9 symphonies before they died. It started happening at the time of Beethoven, and it’s unexplainable. Composers try to avoid or put off writing their 9th symphony because of this. Seriously, look it up (see Curse of the 9th). Something is very odd about this. But anyway, back to Vaughan Williams.

He was also the composer of several hymn tunes, some of which still appear in hymnals today. If you attend a church that sings hymns, you may know some of these tunes he wrote: For All the Saints, O Little Town of Bethlehem (the tune for O Little town of Bethlehem may be different from what you know). He also arranged some hymn tunes for organ preludes. See here a performance of his arrangement of All People that on Earth do Dwell (complete with a procession of the Queen at 1:01), or listen to his prelude for the tune commonly sung as the Christmas carol Come Thou Long Expected Jesus.

So there’s a little background on the English composer Vaughan Williams, but there’s one more piece you must hear. Stay tuned next time to hear one of the most gorgeous pieces of classical music ever. If you think Moonlight Sonata or Pachelbel’s Canon in D are the most beautiful pieces ever, just wait until you hear this piece by Vaughan Williams. Seriously, it’s that good.


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