By StephenF

Ralph Vaughan Williams

I drove over to Mickelham, a village close to Box Hill and Dorking in Surrey this afternoon. I was taking dust sheets, paint brushes and rollers etc for my youngest daughter, Adele, to use as she starts putting her own stamp on her new place. She was lunching with friends at a pub that was equidistant for them all and, to work up an appetite, they had gone for a 4 mile walk up and around Box Hill. I popped into the Dorking Halls on the way back, outside of which stands this statue of the great English composer, Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872 - 1958). Vaughan Williams lived in his earlier years at nearby Leith Hill Place. It's now in the care of the National Trust and is currently closed for refurbishment. It's not a grand house but it enjoys beautiful views over the Surrey Hills. Vaughan Williams composed The Lark Ascending in 1914 on the eve of the First World War. It's a wonderful evocation of a pastoral English scene with the solo violin tracing the upwards flight of the lark. It's like the calm before the storm to come. Vaughan Williams was a great collector of folk songs, along with Holst and Cecil Sharp, and he referenced a number of the melodies in his works. The folk tradition owes a huge debt to RVW for documenting traditional songs that might otherwise have been lost.

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