Today in Music History
A Daily Look at Music History For Violin Students
A Look at What Happened on Today's Date
Long, Long Ago . . . Or Maybe Just Last Year
March 27
Can You Guess?
A famous piece by Ralph Vaughan Williams features a violin in imitation of a certain type of bird.  On the coverleaf of the work Vaughn Williams included words of English poet George Meredith (1828-1909) from a poem by the same name as the composition.
He rises and begins to round,
He drops the silver chain of sound,
Of many links without a break,
In chirrup, whistle, slur and shake.

For singing till his heaven fills,
‘Tis love of earth that he instils,
And ever winging up and up,
Our valley is his golden cup
And he the wine which overflows
to lift us with him as he goes.

Till lost on his aerial rings
In light, and then the fancy sings.

Can You Guess the type of bird both men were describing?

Go to the Bottom of the Column for the Answer
What Else
Modest Mussorgsky
Ralph Vaughn Williams
Ralph Vaughan Williams's Symphony No. 2 premiered March 27, 1914.

Ralph (pronounced "Rafe") Vaughan Williams was born October 12, 1872 in the village of Down Ampney, Gloucestershire, England, where his father, Arthur, was rector.   Educated at Charterhouse school, then Trinity College, Cambridge, he later studied under Stanford and Parry at the Royal College of Music, then with Max Bruch in Berlin.  In 1899 Vaughan Williams passed his exams for his Doctor of Music degree.
In 1903 Vaughan Williams began to travel the countryside to collect and preserve folksongs and carols.  These had begun to become extinct due to increased literacy and printed music.  Besides saving the works themselves, he began to incorporate some of the tunes into his own works.

In 1904 Ralph Vaughan Williams began work as editor of the English Hymnal.  In 1908 he traveled to Paris to study with Maurice Ravel in order to "acquire some French polish."  It was during this period that he met and formed a strong friendship with composer Gustav Holst.

1910 saw the completion of Ralph Vaughan Williams's Symphony No. 1, called "The Sea."  Symphony No. 2 (mentioned above) followed four years later.
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Did You Guess?
The poem and the violin / orchestral work are entitled Lark Ascending. Did you see the c
olor clues?
Although the war ended in November of 1918, Vaughan Williams was not demobilized until 1919.  At that time he became a Professor of Compostion at the Royal College of Music.

Following the war Vaughan Williams became a Professor of Composition at the Royal College of Music.  For many years Vaughan Williams conducted and led the Leith Hill Music Festival, conducting Bach’s St Matthew Passion on a regular basis.

During his lifetime, Vaughan Williams composed nine symphonies, other orchestral works, concertos, keyboard works, chamber works, and pieces for films, stage plays and pageants.  He consciously avoided all honors except for the Order of Merit which was conferred upon him in 1938.

Ralph Vaughan Williams died in his sleep on August 26, 1958, his ashes are interred in Westminster Abbey, near Henry Purcell.
1723 - Premiere of J.S. Bach's  St. John Passion at St. Thomas Church in Leipzig.

1827 - Premiere of Rossini's opera "Moïse et Pharaon" (Moses and Pharaoh) at the Paris Opéra. The and French language version of Rossini's Italian opera "Mosè in Egitto."

1943 - Premiere of William Schuman's cantata A Free Song (after Walt Whitman), in Boston.  It won the first Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1943.

1958 - Premiere of Henry Cowell's Ongaku a symphonic suite on Japanese themes, by the Louisville Orchestra.

1958 - Premiere of Lutoslawski's Marche funèbre (in memory of Béla Bartók).

1960 - Premiere of  Ralph Shapey's Evocation for violin, piano and percussion.

1986 - Premiere of  Ned Rorem's The End of Summer for clarinet, violin, and piano,  by the Verdehr Trio.

1998 - Premiere of Zwilich's Violin Concerto, at Carnegie Hall in New York, by the Orchestra of St. Luke's, Hugh Wolff conducting, with soloist Pamela Frank.

2001 - Premiere of  Corigliano's Mannheim Rocket, in Mannheim,Germany.
World War I also broke out during 1914.  Vaughan Williams volunteered to serve with the Field Ambulance Corps.  He found himself deeply affected by the carnage, and in 1914 his close friend composer George Butterworth was killed.  This was also very difficult for him.
A Great Story About a Cow Who is Udderly in Love With Beethoven's Music!
Hilary Hahn Performs
Lark Ascending