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Vaughan Williams: Post-War Recovery and Festival of Britain

Donald Macleod introduces Vaughan Williams's stage work based on The Pilgrim's Progress and the masterpiece which critics at the time described as a work of 'ultimate nihilism'.

Celebrating British Music: Six years after the war, the Festival of Britain provided a showcase for the very best in British art, design and industry. Vaughan Williams's stage work The Pilgrim's Progress was premiered at Covent Garden as the Royal Opera House's main contribution to the Festival. Donald Macleod presents an excerpt from the work inspired by John Bunyan's allegory which had been a source of fascination for him since he was a child. He also introduces a group of songs written as a test piece for an amateur competition, and the remarkable symphonic masterpiece which reviewers at the time described as a work of "ultimate nihilism".

1 hour

Music Played

  • Ralph Vaughan Williams

    To the Ploughboy (Folk Songs of the Four Seasons - no.1)

    Performer: Choir of Clare College Cambridge Performer: Dmitri Ensemble Director: David Willcocks

    • Albion Records: ALBCD010.
    • 10.
  • Ralph Vaughan Williams

    Three Shakespeare Songs

    Performer: Finzi Singers Director: Paul Spicer

    • Chandos: CHAN9425.
  • Ralph Vaughan Williams

    The Pilgrim's Progress: Act II Sc.2 - The Pilgrim in Prison

    Performer: Gerald Finley (Pilgrim) Performer: Orchestra of the Royal Opera House Conductor: Richard Hickox

    • Chandos: CHAN9625.
    • 3.
  • Ralph Vaughan Williams

    Symphony no.6

    Performer: BBC Symphony Orchestra Conductor: Andrew Davis

    • Teldec: 9031-73127-2.

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