A tweedy purveyor of folklore; too many larks ascending and too much Linden Lea: no composer's work has ever been more cruelly stereotyped than that of Ralph Vaughan Williams. The truth could hardly have been more different: that folksy feel masked the highest sophistication, that countrified air the most audacious experimentation. If, unlike his Germanizing contemporary Elgar, Vaughan Williams did indeed open the way to a distinctively English Music, his was an Englishness which owed nothing to narrow-mindedness or lack of artistic enterprise. Fifty years after his death in 1958, Vaughan Williams' reputation is greater than ever before and there is a resurgence of interest in his music. Re-issued to coincide with this anniversary, Simon Heffer's perceptive book lends weight to the increasingly compelling case for Vaughan Williams' recognition as the most important English composer of the twentieth century. 'A vivid and appealing picture of an irresistibly likeable figure ... I enjoyed this little book enormously.' Spectator 'An affectionate, accurate and shrewd account of Vaughan Williams' life ... the author's astute commentary on it betokens close and knowledgeable acquaintance.' Sunday Telegraph

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