Ralph Vaughan Williams (Dictionary of World Biography: Twentieth Century)
Article abstract: Through the use of folk songs and native idioms, Vaughan Williams helped bring about the twentieth century revival of English music and established himself as its foremost composer.
Ralph Vaughan Williams was born on October 12, 1872, in Down Ampney, Gloucestershire, England. His ancestry included lawyers and pastors on his father’s side, and he was related to Charles Darwin on his mother’s side. The youngest of three children, Vaughan Williams (he was always called by both names and is listed in references that way) was reared in an upper-middle-class environment at his mother’s family home at Leith Hill Place in Surrey, having moved there in 1875 after the death of his father, the Reverend Arthur Vaughan Williams.
Vaughan Williams received private instruction in piano, violin, viola, and harmony and attended the Royal College of Music in London and Trinity College, Cambridge, completing his studies in 1896. This tall, heavyset man was often the recipient of stares and comments. He had a large head, with a pronounced square jaw and thin lips. Particularly noticeable were his sad eyes and his exaggerated air of absentmindedness. This seeming detachment from the realities of life was evident even during his student days, when he wrote music with a scrawling, sloppy script. His interest became the music of his native England, an interest that was heightened and encouraged by...
(The entire section is 1785 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!