"Do you realize," a friend asked composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, "that none of your best-sellers are your own?"
He was referring to the Fantasia on Greensleeves, the English Folk Songs Suite, and the Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis. 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, I would 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 the next hour, an exploration of Fantasia on Greensleeves and the English Folk Songs Suite, and the folk songs that inspired them.