Saturday, December 5, 2009

Ralph Vaughan Williams - Serenade to Music (original version for 16 soloists) part one

This is a cold Winter night where I am and this music--warm and serene--I hope will ease any heavy hearts.

One of the most beautiful shorter symphonic I've had the pleasure of hearing: composed in 1938 and performed for the first time at the Royal Albert Hall. it was composed by Williams as part of a jubilee concert for a friend, Sir Henry J Wood.
The words in the chorus come from Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice", specifically ACT V, Scene One where--after the drama of the trial featuring Shylock and Lorenzo's friend Antonio has concluded successfully (at least to the characters here) ---the lovers Lorenzo and Jessica are united and listening to beautiful music on a romantic evening in a country home called Belmont.
The lines from the singers here are taken from Lorenzo's lines in that act.

The first performance of "Serenade to Music" brought tears to the eyes of many in the Albert Hall, including one of Vaughan Williams and Sir John Wood's friends, the great Sergi Rachmaninov, who was present at the concert hall that evening after performing his Second Concerto in the first half of the program.

The Russian composer later wrote that he had never been so moved by music. The second half is also on You Tube.


  1. Wonderful music as ever, from Ralph Vaughan Williams, Doug.

    Thank you for posting this music and what a lovely way to start my Sunday!

    Sir Henry J Wood's statue at the Royal Albert Hall gets a lot of attention to this day! :-)

    (And draw her home with a hymn.) What better ways to make Diana come running?

    It's great that the lyrics are there, because it would be a shame to miss them, they are beautiful!


  2. With a morning coffee at hand this is tremendous at 7:30 love it Doug.
    By the way your background is that your town there?

  3. I agree there Frank. Beautiful imagery in music and words.

  4. It seemed like a good choice for this pre-Winter season.

    I remember walking about the Albert Hall when I was in London years ago--what an incredible venue!

    It must have an incredible tribute that night to first hear this work presented. I'm glad the lyrics were posted as they were--I could have found them from liner notes on the Internet and posted them but this works much better.

    You're welcome Cassandra.

  5. Thanks Jack.

    Yes, this photo is a newspaper shot of the Festival of Lights, which is in downtown Ashland for a month, with this incredible array of lights (as you see) and simulated Victorian-style street lighting Shirley and I drove around the night after the ceremonies--which draws a large crowd--and it was more beautiful and bigger than last year. I don't have a camera with fast enough speed to do it justice, so I picked this one of the main plaza from the "Daily Tidings" newspaper.