Early Years and Family
Ralph Vaughan Williams was born in The Vicarage, in Down Ampney, on October 12, 1872 to Arthur and Margaret Vaughan Williams. Ralph’s father; Arthur was the vicar of the All Saints Church in Down Ampney in 1868. Through his mothers side Ralph had two famous great-great-grand fathers; Josiah Wedgwood, the founder of the pottery at Stoke-on-Trent, and Erasmus Darwin, the grandfather of Charles Darwin. In 1875 Ralph’s father suddenly died, when he was only two years old. His mother moved him and his two siblings to the Wedgwood family home: Leith Hill Place, in Surrey.
Musical Training and Schooling
Music was very important to the family and his early music lessons were given by his aunt Sophy, who was his mothers sister. He wrote his first piano piece when he was six, called The Robin’s Nest . Ralph and his siblings would play duets together and all were good students. It soon came time for Ralph to go to school so he followed his brother Hervey to preparatory school at Rottingdean near Brighton in 1883. He liked the music teachers there very much and was introduced to J.S. Bach. He learned the violin and soon became good enough to know Raff's Cavatina by heart. In 1887 Ralph became a student at Charterhouse school near Godalming in Surrey where he remained until 1890, he was fourteen at the time. Here he organized concerts and wanted to pursue Viola but his family disagreed and chose the organ for him instead.
In 1890 Ralph entered the Royal College of Music. After two semesters he became the student of Sir Hubert Perry. Perry grew Ralph’s musical knowledge and had a certain love of english choral music, which Ralph relied upon later in his life. In 1892, Ralph went to Trinity College, Cambridge to study both history and music. He continued to have weekly lessons with Parry in London. At Cambridge, he studied with Charles Wood who Ralph described as "the finest technical instructor I had ever known”. ( ) Here Ralph was introduced to a wide circle of friends, including G.E. Moore, the philosopher, George Trevelyan, the historian, and Hugh Allen, later to become Director of the Royal College of Music. Ralph had graduated in 1894 with his Bachelors of Music and returned for his history degree the following year. He returned to the R.C.M. in 1895 where he became a close friend of Gustav Holst. Ralph grew very close with Holst and they remained great friends until Hoslt’s death in 1934. Also at this time Parry became the Director of the R.C.M., so Ralph had to go to Sir Charles Villiers Stanford for lessons.
Meanwhile, Ralph had met Adeline Fisher, a talented cellist and pianist with a lively intelligence. She was closely related to Virginia Woolf. In 1896 they became engaged and married on October 9, 1897, three days before Ralph turned twenty-five. After a short study with Max Bruch in Berlin, Ralph returned to his job as Organist at St. Barnabas, South Lambeth in London which he had held since l895....