A 150th birthday tribute to Vaughan Williams

Writing for The Guardian, conductor Andrew Manze celebrates the 150th anniversary year of Ralph Vaughan Williams, the most English of composers.

Vaughan Williams was so deeply steeped in his country’s folk and sacred music, literature and landscape, Manze writes, that “he himself sometimes did not know whether he had composed a piece or merely remembered it. He likened the process to seeing Stonehenge, New York or Niagara Falls for the first time: [I]t was as if he already knew them. . . .

“For some, however, Vaughan Williams’s very Englishness can be a barrier to appreciation. I have been lucky enough to perform his music outside the UK and see how it touches and speaks to musicians and audiences who know nothing of its cultural roots. The most common reaction to hearing one of the symphonies is a sort of bemused appetite for more: how many of these are there?”