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Author Topic: Ralph Vaughan Williams  (Read 42123 times)
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k a rl h e nn i ng
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« Reply #375 on: February 02, 2006, 02:28:44 AM »

It's understandable that Vaughan Williams would snap, having been pestered and over-analysed constantly over every one of his works.

Quite right, though the fact that he 'enjoyed' such a problem recalls Wilde's "The only thing worse than being talked about, is not being talked about" :-)
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Karl Henning
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« Reply #376 on: February 02, 2006, 06:53:21 AM »

didn't he also say that Symphony #4 was "about f minor" ??

Yes. The public associated the violent nature of the 4th with the War, and with no direct allusion written in the score, they asked Vaughan Williams "What is the 4th symphony about?"

and he replied,

"It is about F Minor."

Brilliant. VW did not want people making his symphonies programmatic, he believed in music about music and developments of music based on music, not some extramusical event or detail. It leaves my mind wonder to form soundscapes and textures and shapes all in my own head.   Grin
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« Reply #377 on: February 02, 2006, 07:48:41 AM »

Brilliant. VW did not want people making his symphonies programmatic, he believed in music about music and developments of music based on music, not some extramusical event or detail. It leaves my mind wonder to form soundscapes and textures and shapes all in my own head.   Grin

      Indeed, in the premiere to the London Symphony, he told the audience (if I may paraphrase here, I don't remember the exact quote) that if they heard specific allusions to London, such as an organ grinder, or other physical entities within the city (such as Big Ben), they were to pass them off as anamolies. I would say that his first three symphonies (and especially London) are not so much tone poem-esque in the style of Berlioz, so much as they are symphonies in which the composer's muse is revealed to the audience.
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Heck148
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« Reply #378 on: February 02, 2006, 10:41:03 AM »

Yes. The public associated the violent nature of the 4th with the War, and with no direct allusion written in the score,
still tho - an angry reaction to the war and its awful destruction seems likely, even if it was not explicitly stated. it's almost like #4 is the other side of the coin from the peaceful, Pastorale #3 - with its more meditiative, "in memoriam" sort of atmosphere.

#4 just explodes with anger and violence....the mad meat-grinder of modern war mashes up its victims indiscriminately in a firestorm of fury....
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« Reply #379 on: February 02, 2006, 02:14:42 PM »



      I just finished listening to the 9th, the Boult premiere recording on Everest. It has many references to earlier works, although it isn't really like any of them. It is really striking how prominent the saxophones are, more so than in Job or the 6th symphony. His use of the instrument doen't seem eccentric at all, in fact they fit right in. If anyone could have written a sax concerto that made an impact, RVW would be the one.
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« Reply #380 on: February 02, 2006, 03:47:29 PM »


      I just finished listening to the 9th, the Boult premiere recording on Everest. It has many references to earlier works, although it isn't really like any of them. It is really striking how prominent the saxophones are, more so than in Job or the 6th symphony. His use of the instrument doen't seem eccentric at all, in fact they fit right in. If anyone could have written a sax concerto that made an impact, RVW would be the one.

That recording is a chestnut.  Anyway, about the saxes - does anyone wonder where that came from? Was it possibly his studies with Ravel? Oddly, the 20th century addition of saxophones to the standard orchestra did not seem to 'take'.

The Ninth is the singular RVW Symphony that I have the most trouble with. And it's not the saxes. I'm not sure what it is. I like to say that I love all of RVW's symphonies, but I admit my love for the ninth is a little bit less than it is for the others.
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« Reply #381 on: February 02, 2006, 05:26:58 PM »

Anyway, about the saxes - does anyone wonder where that came from? Was it possibly his studies with Ravel?

      It's possible, but I'd tend to say no. His studies with Ravel came between the 1st & 2nd symphonies, if we're going to use his symphonic output as the benchmark here. Of his first 5 or 6 symphonies, the sound world if the London Symphony is drastically different from the other 5, and the influence of Ravel is more obvious in this work than any other, most notably the HUGE orchestration (with full trumpet and cornet sections complementing a veritable brass army in addition to an english horn, IIRC, the first time it appeared in RVW's writing). Yet the saxophone does not make any appearance in RVW's symphonies until No. 6.
      Of course this is mere speculation, but if RVW picked up the sax from Ravel, why wouldn't he use it immediately with the London Symphony, as he did with virtually every other instrument that has ever even THOUGHT of being in an orchestra (although admittedly, the banjo got left out...)? I think he got the inspiration elsewhere.
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Heck148
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« Reply #382 on: February 03, 2006, 03:20:42 AM »

about the saxes - does anyone wonder where that came from? Was it possibly his studies with Ravel? Oddly, the 20th century addition of saxophones to the standard orchestra did not seem to 'take'.

I love his use of the saxes in Sym #9. wht a great sound - and it enhances VWms prefence for the low reed/brass sound - he gave juicy parts to bassoons, trombones, tuba, low clarinets and horns - the saxes in #9 fit right in, and add a new color..
I alos like his use of the fluegelhorn for the big solo in the 2nd mvt...again - this provides a darker, deeper vice to th trumpet, trombone section. very effective...

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The Ninth is the singular RVW Symphony that I have the most trouble with.
keep trying it - it is a great piece. definitely one of my favorite VWms symphonies
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« Reply #383 on: February 04, 2006, 07:09:46 AM »

Does anyone know the proper pronunciation of "Rhosymedre", one of the melodies Vaughan Williams used for his Three Preludes on Welsh Hymn Tunes for Organ?
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« Reply #384 on: February 04, 2006, 07:17:24 AM »

Does anyone know the proper pronunciation of "Rhosymedre", one of the melodies Vaughan Williams used for his Three Preludes on Welsh Hymn Tunes for Organ?

"Haitink"
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Karl Henning
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« Reply #385 on: February 04, 2006, 07:33:29 AM »

"Haitink"

 Tongue
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« Reply #386 on: February 04, 2006, 02:50:15 PM »

Does anyone know the proper pronunciation of "Rhosymedre",

uuu-bloo-doo-gee
 Cool
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« Reply #387 on: February 04, 2006, 02:53:11 PM »

uuu-bloo-doo-gee
 Cool

 Tongue Tongue
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« Reply #388 on: February 04, 2006, 04:49:24 PM »

Quote
still tho - an angry reaction to the war and its awful destruction seems likely, even if it was not explicitly stated. it's almost like #4 is the other side of the coin from the peaceful, Pastorale #3 - with its more meditiative, "in memoriam" sort of atmosphere

I understand where you are coming from, and VW's persistence in referring to this symphony only as pure music, but since no solid evidence influences the fact of an allusion to war, I can dismiss any claims. For all I know it could've been an aggravating hang nail or perhaps a toothache to inspire such anger. We all know he was a man of ill temper. I could imagine his dinner being burnt and him slamming away some F Minor motif on the piano and running with it. If any one symphony alludes to war, it would be the 3rd, with ironic landscapes of bodies littering a field with a sun rising over it in perverted beauty.


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The Ninth is the singular RVW Symphony that I have the most trouble with. And it's not the saxes. I'm not sure what it is. I like to say that I love all of RVW's symphonies, but I admit my love for the ninth is a little bit less than it is for the others.

I can also understand what you mean. However all the VW trademarks are there. Especially the intro. When one of VW's trademark impassioned string outburst occurs shortly after the intro, you know that this octogenarian was in business. I love to admire how keen VW would have been writing a piece like this. His firey temper still in effect, but the ease of age settling in. There is much mixture of lyrical and harsh qualities. But he doesn't forget the use of invention. I love the phrases in most of his Scherzos. It's like he was yelling at you or ranting. These are the only scherzos I laugh at. Its pure entertainment. And then the final movement. It is my most anticipated moment when listening to a VW symphony. After much talk, its time to get to the bottom line. Leavning me with past statements like the 4th, the 6th, and the 8th, you anticipate what is going to happen. In this symphony, I feel as if it is VW's last ascension to the top of his game, the ultimate statement. You hear beautiful flute melodies, dramatic string passages, hearty low brass, the glimmering of mallet percussion. Then the final E Major chords with glimmering harp arpeggios. Brilliant! I do hope you warm  up to this symphony.
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« Reply #389 on: February 05, 2006, 12:04:28 AM »

There are also reactions to the war more complicated than (and simply other than) anger. And, really, we rely on our artists to be more sensitive, to be subtler, than The Common Man (even an artist like RVW, who --like Henry V -- had 'the common touch').  What a dull reading it is of the Fourth Symphony, to try to sum it up in the five letters, "angry."  What dull artists they would all be, if the only art they had to offer in response to the war, were "angry" art.
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Karl Henning
Composer & Clarinetist
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http://members.tripod.com/~Karl_P_Henning/
Published @ http://www.luxnova.com/
"I drink so that I may suffer twice as much." -- Marmeladov in Crime & Punishment
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