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Saturday, November 9, 2013 Permalink

The Folk Song Connection

Ralph Vaughan Williams


"Do you realize," a friend told composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, "that none of your best-sellers are your own?"

He was referring to the Fantasia on Greensleeves and the English Folk Songs Suite. And while it's a clever remark that the composer found very funny, the truth is, all three works are very much his own.

In fact, one could argue that Vaughan Williams' particular form of greatness is not in saying things that have never been said before--but in presenting familiar or forgotten things in a way that makes them seem fresh and relevant.

In this hour, an exploration of two of Vaughan Williams' best-loved works, and the folk songs that inspired them.


Recordings Used

Ralph Vaughan Williams  (Vernon Handley)    EMI Eminence CD-EMX 2179

Under the Greenwood Tree      Naxos 8.553442

Vaughan Williams: The Collector's Edition, disc 10     EMI 2066362

Homeward Bound (US Navy Sea Chanters)    Coker & McCree (iTunes download)

Anne Briggs: A Collection        Topic Records TSCD504

Alan Lomax: Classic Ballads of Britain & Ireland, Vol. 2      Rounder Records 1776

The Gordons: Time Will Tell Our Story        Blueberry Hill BBH 122

Luke Kelly: Working Class Hero        Celtic Airs Records CACD0203

Heather Wood: Fast Folk (Vol. 3, No. 9), Songs of Tradition    iTunes download]

Martin Simpson: The Bramble Briar        Topic Records TSCD513

HeartSounds: Behind the Green Bushes  HeartSounds 610 388 7523

Bournemouth Symphony: English String Music     Naxos 8.550823