Ralph Vaughan Williams and the Hallé

By Butterworth, Arthur | Musical Opinion, November/December 2011 | Go to article overview

Ralph Vaughan Williams and the Hallé


Butterworth, Arthur, Musical Opinion


The distinguished composer and orchestral musician, who celebrated his 88th birthday in August, recalls his experiences with the great English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams and his music over more than seventy-five years. Arthur Butterworth's own new Seventh Symphony, Opus 140, which he has recently completed, is to be performed in the new year. He has written an introduction to the work for Musical Opinion which will appear in our series 'My New Music' nearer the time of the premiere.

Sometime in the early 1 94Os I went with my father to a Sunday afternoon Hallé concert in Manchester, conducted by Sir Henry Wood. As far as I can remember this was the very first time I had heard a symphony by Vaughan Williams; it was A London Symphony. Before that, as a much younger boy, I had of course seen in 'Radio Times' the name: 'R. Vaughan Williams' (which I had always imagined was pronounced 'Vaug-gan'), but these notices in 'Radio Times' were generally listing recitals of his very well-known songs, such as S//enf Noon or Linden Lea. I had no idea in those far-off days that he wrote music for large orchestra too. So this wartime Sunday afternoon performance of A London Symphony was quite a new experience for me. Being an ardent young brass player, with ambitions to be an orchestral trumpeter, an improbable ambition so it seemed at that time, I was especially interested to see coming on to the stage for this performance extra brass players - two cornet players!

Now the cornet, that plebeian brass band instrument, is not really a regular constituent of a symphony orchestra, but rather the far more noble and arrogant trumpet, yet on occasion the cornet does figure in orchestral music; more especially French scores, whereas the classic German scores tended to despise this nineteenth-century new-fangled addition to the brass family. However, as a brass player myself (and at that time primarily a brass band cornet player) I was most intrigued to see these two players suddenly come on to the stage to join the rest of the large orchestra. In fact, I was more than a bit jealous, because / would just have loved to have had the opportunity to have taken part instead of them!

What did I make of this first hearing of a Vaughan William major work? Well, frankly, not all that much; it seemed too long but I must say I liked the brass writing. So time went on, I had to join the army, but on odd occasions there were chances to hear this and that of RVW on the radio, usually in noisy army canteens. However, on leave from time to time, I still went to war-time Hallé concerts and began to recognise Vaughan Williams's very English musical voice. One of the most significant performances however was while I was still in Germany just a month or two after the War. The Hamburg Radio Symphony Orchestra (now under the management of the British Military Government's general supervision) gave regular broadcast concerts conducted by Captain Trevor Harvey, a British army officer (a conductor who, years later, my elder daughter was to be leader for in a youth orchestra in Yorkshire). This German performance was of the Vaughan Williams Oboe Concerto. Soon afterwards, on leave, I chanced to hear the TaIIIs Fantasia and this experience, probably more than any other, firmly won me over to a full appreciation of Vaughan Williams.

It was to be some time, however, before that early ambition - to be an orchestral player - was finally achieved. While still a music student I had heard that first overwhelming performance of the Sixth Symphony in April 1948, and very soon afterwards heard the Hallé play it under Barbirolli in Manchester. I longed to be able to take part in this stunning symphony, and a year later, having by then joined the Scottish Orchestra (now the RSNO) in Glasgow, this ambition was fulfilled. Sometime in 1949 I had the audacity to write to RVW, asking his advice as a composer. The result (as the etter, quoted in Hugh Cobbe's letters of Ralph Vaughan Williams, 1895-1958' [Oxford University Press] outlines) was that I came to know him. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Ralph Vaughan Williams and the Hallé
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.