Vaughan Williams (英語) ハードカバー – 2001/4
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Unlike the fathers of the nineteenth-century English musical renaissance, who slavishly paid homage to the German masters, composers Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) and his friend Gustav Holst threw off the shackles of the Teutonic school and drew their inspiration from the neglected tradition of folk-song. The result was the creation of a distinctly English musical voice that evoked the cultural heritage of a nation. In particular, the sheer beauty, vitality, and aesthetic force of Vaughan Williams' works, which include The Lark Ascending, Greensleeves, the Tallis Fantasia, and nine symphonies, connected listeners to a timeless past and gave them a common national spirit, especially during turbulent, war-torn times. Here, Simon Heffer charts the course of Williams' remarkable life and career. Heffer traces Williams' privileged upbringing, his years of painstaking studies with Hubert Parry, Max Bruch, and Maurice Ravel, his promotion of folk-song and editorship of the English Hymnal, his close association with Holst and George Butterworth, and his emergence as the leader of English musical life. Williams was a genius of musical invention who is still beloved and admired in Britain and around the world.
Simon Heffer is a political columnist for the Daily Mail. He is the author of Moral Desperado: A Life of Thomas Carlyle; Power and Place: The Political Consequences of King Edward VII; Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell; and Nor Shall My Sword: The Reinvention of England. He lives in Chelmsford, England.
Heffer writes clearly and his critiques (and explanations) of individual works are nicely informed and (it seems to me) soundly based. At the end of it, I definitely felt I had a better understanding of Vaughan Williams as a man -and a much better appreciation of his music, too. And I can't think of two better reasons for writing a biography of a composer -or of buying it.
Heffer secures the essential threads between VW's family (his father, at his son's birth, was the Vicar of Down Ampney and his mother was a Wedgewood, and neice of Charles Darwin) and his lifelong output of quintessentially English music. The author wisely allows this bucolic picture of gentle privilege to continuously and subtly inform the dialogue of Vaughan Williams' life and work, gradually creating a full look on firm ground of a thoroughly cosmopolitan composer.
The discussions of VW's compositions are exceptionally competent and always evocative. Heffer' reach is impressive - from VW's undramatic beginnings as a composer, his constant affection for and lavish attention to the English hymn tune, his musical study with Ravel and its effect on his work, through to the daring influence of blues and jazz found in his symphonies, notably the use of vibraphones that inform the beguiling Eighth.
This book is a great deal like VW's music itself - profound and gentle, inspiring and intimate. Recommended over other more lengthy biographies of VW, length not always equalling depth of treatment in these matters. In this important little book, the two aspects combine in perfect conformity to the living testament that is VW's music itself. This book is a full, revealing look at a composer who spent his creative life conjuring manifold beauty and nurturing his unique gifts with the uncommon genius of steady, humane purpose. The appendix of select discography with incisive commentary is also useful especially for those not that familiar with VW's music.