Ralph Vaughan Williams was born in The Vicarage, in Down Ampney, on October 12, 1872 to Arthur and Margaret Vaughan Williams. Ralph’s father; Arthur was the vicar of the All Saints Church in Down Ampney in 1868. Through his mothers side Ralph had two famous great-great-grand fathers; Josiah Wedgwood, the founder of the pottery at Stoke-on-Trent, and Erasmus Darwin, the grandfather of Charles Darwin. In 1875 Ralph’s father suddenly died, when he was only two years old. His mother moved him and his two siblings to the Wedgwood family home: Leith Hill Place, in Surrey.
Musical Training and Schooling
Music was very important to the family and his early music lessons were given by his aunt Sophy, who was his mothers sister. He wrote his first piano piece when he was six, called The Robin’s Nest . Ralph and his siblings would play duets together and all were good students. It soon came time for Ralph to go to school so he followed his brother Hervey to preparatory school at Rottingdean near Brighton in 1883. He liked the music teachers there very much and was introduced to J.S. Bach. He learned the violin and soon became good enough to know Raff's Cavatina by heart. In 1887 Ralph became a student at Charterhouse school near Godalming in Surrey where he remained until 1890, he was fourteen at the time. Here he organized concerts and wanted to pursue Viola but his family disagreed and chose the organ for him instead.
In 1890 Ralph entered the Royal College of Music. After two semesters he became the student of Sir Hubert Perry. Perry grew Ralph’s musical knowledge and had a certain love of english choral music, which Ralph relied upon later in his life. In 1892, Ralph went to Trinity College, Cambridge to st...
... middle of paper ...
... an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Music at Oxford.
In 1914, Ralph finished his first Opera, Hugh the Drover, a work he had begun writing in 1910. It is a romantic ballad with words by Harold Child charting the love-at-first-sight relationship of Hugh and Mary, the constable's daughter. Vaughan Williams wanted to write a "musical" about English life. It is indeed full of wonderful tunes in Vaughan Williams' most fresh and lyrical style. It even succeeds in setting a boxing match between Hugh and John the Butcher, to whom Mary was about to be unhappily married. The opera was first publicly performed in 1924, with forces of the British National Opera Company conducted by Malcolm Sargent.
Connock, Stephen, MBE. "The Life of Ralph Vaughan Williams." The Life of Ralph Vaughan Williams. Ralph Vaughan Williams Society, 19 Aug. 2001. Web. 07 Apr. 2014.
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