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The Cambridge Companion to Vaughan Williams


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Part of Cambridge Companions to Music

Alain Frogley, Aidan J. Thomson, Julian Onderdonk, Byron Adams, Sophie Fuller, Charles Edward McGuire, Eric Saylor, Christopher Mark, Julian Horton, David Manning, Jenny Doctor, Michael Kennedy
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  • Date Published: November 2013
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521162906

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About the Authors
  • An icon of British national identity and one of the most widely performed twentieth-century composers, Ralph Vaughan Williams has been as much misunderstood as revered; his international impact and enduring influence on areas as diverse as church music, film scores and popular music has been insufficiently appreciated. This volume brings together a team of leading scholars, examining all areas of the composer's output from new perspectives, and re-evaluating the cultural politics of his lifelong advocacy for the music-making of ordinary people. Surveys of major genres are complemented by chapters exploring such topics as the composer's relationship with the BBC and his studies with Ravel; uniquely, the book also includes specially commissioned interviews with major living composers Peter Maxwell Davies, Piers Hellawell, Nicola Lefanu and Anthony Payne. The Companion is a vital resource for all those interested in this pivotal figure of modern music.

    • The first comprehensive re-examination of Vaughan Williams's music, its context and its reception to appear since the 1980s, this Companion contains a diversity of approaches and perspectives from leading scholars in the field
    • Includes discussions of works by the composer that have only recently been rediscovered and performed – the first time that these works have been examined
    • Features insightful interviews with the composers Peter Maxwell Davies, Piers Hellawell, Nicola LeFanu and Anthony Payne, providing acknowledgement of Vaughan Williams's often overlooked modernity by British composers who have followed him
    Read more


    • A Classical Music Editor's Choice Top Ten Book of 2014

    Reviews & endorsements

    'The fourteen chapters take a variety of differing approaches to the process of exploring Vaughan William's life, work and broader cultural and social surroundings, so that the total result gives a genuine sense of 'something for everyone' … A thoughtful and informative companion.' Malcolm Hayes, BBC Music Magazine

    'A challenging and a stimulating read.' Gramophone

    ' All the essays here are valuable and often insightful … A really fine book about a great composer and a great man.' Classical Music

    See more reviews

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2013
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521162906
    • length: 358 pages
    • dimensions: 246 x 175 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.73kg
    • contains: 47 music examples
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction Alain Frogley and Aidan J. Thomson
    Part I. 'Who wants the English composer?': Forging a Path, 1890–1925:
    1. The composer and society: family, politics, nation Julian Onderdonk
    2. Vaughan Williams's musical apprenticeship Byron Adams
    3. Becoming a national composer: critical reception to c.1925 Aidan J. Thomson
    Part II. Works by Genre:
    4. History and geography: the early orchestral works and first three symphonies Alain Frogley
    5. The songs and shorter secular choral works Sophie Fuller
    6. 'An Englishman and a democrat': Vaughan Williams, large choral works and the English festival tradition Charles Edward McGuire
    7. Folksong arrangements, hymn tunes, and church music Julian Onderdonk
    8. Music for stage and film Eric Saylor
    9. Chamber music and works for soloist with orchestra Christopher Mark
    10. The later symphonies Julian Horton
    Part III. Activism, Reception, and Influence:
    11. The public figure: Vaughan Williams as writer and activist David Manning
    12. Vaughan Williams, Boult, and the BBC Jenny Doctor
    13. Fluctuations in the response to the music of Ralph Vaughan Williams Michael Kennedy
    14. Vaughan Williams and his successors: composers' forum Peter Maxwell Davies, Piers Hellawell, Nicola LeFanu and Anthony Payne in conversation with Aidan J. Thomson
    Select bibliography
    Index of Vaughan Williams's works.

  • Editors

    Alain Frogley, University of Connecticut
    Alain Frogley has taught at Oxford and Lancaster universities, and since 1994 at the University of Connecticut; in 2008 he was Visiting Professor at Yale University. In 2005–6 he was a Fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies. A specialist in the music of the late-nineteenth and twentieth centuries, particularly that of Britain and America, he has also worked extensively on Beethoven. His research has centered on sketch studies, reception history and musical nationalism; his most recent work explores music and the modern city. Frogley is the editor of Vaughan Williams Studies (1996) and the author of Vaughan Williams's Ninth Symphony (2001); he has also contributed to the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

    Aidan J. Thomson, Queen's University Belfast
    Aidan J. Thomson taught at the universities of Oxford and Leeds before being appointed Lecturer in Music at Queen's University Belfast in 2003. His main research interests are the music and culture of early twentieth-century Britain and Ireland, particularly the relationship between reception, criticism and analysis. His publications include articles and book chapters on Elgar (in 19th-Century Music, The Cambridge Companion to Elgar, Edward Elgar and His World, Elgar Studies, and Musical Quarterly), Ethel Smyth and Arnold Bax. He has served on the councils of the Royal Musical Association, the North American British Music Studies Association, and the Society for Musicology in Ireland, and is currently the reviews editor of the Journal of the Society for Musicology in Ireland.


    Alain Frogley, Aidan J. Thomson, Julian Onderdonk, Byron Adams, Sophie Fuller, Charles Edward McGuire, Eric Saylor, Christopher Mark, Julian Horton, David Manning, Jenny Doctor, Michael Kennedy


    • A Classical Music Editor's Choice Top Ten Book of 2014

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