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Ralph Vaughan Williams
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Composer
    (October 12, 1872-August 26, 1958)
    Born in Down Ampney, Gloucestershire, England, United Kingdom
    Composed nine symphonies
    Composed the operas 'Hugh the Drover' (1920), 'Sir John in Love' (1928), 'Riders to the Sea' (1932) and 'Pilgrim's Progress' (1951)
    Wrote scores for the films '49th Parallel' (1940), 'Coastal Command' (1942), 'Scott of the Antarctic' (1948) and 'The England of Elizabeth' (1955)
    Music editor of the English Hymnal (1906), Songs of Praise (1925) and The Oxford Book of Carols (1928)
    First name pronounced 'Rafe'
    He was in his late 30s before he wrote his first symphony.
    His friend and fellow composer George Butterworth said, 'It would be hard to name any other first-rate composer who had 'found himself' with such apparent difficulty.'
    He turned down a knighthood.
    He was a self-described 'cheerful agnostic' who wrote hymns.
    He volunteered for the Royal Army Medical Corps during World War I, serving as a stretcher bearer and organizing choral singing and other entertainment in the trenches.
    He eventually lost much of his hearing due to prolonged exposure to gunfire during WWI.
    He wrote compositions based on the works of William Blake, A.E. Housman, Matthew Arnold and John Bunyan.
    The Musical Times wrote, 'In his music he expressed the essential spirit of England as perhaps no other composer has ever done before.'
    His 'The Lark Ascending' was chosen as the all-time favorite song by listeners of BBC Radio 4's 'Desert Island Discs.' (2011)

Credit: C. Fishel


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