Programme notes

Rhosymedre, Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872—1958)

The name is of a place: a small Denbighshire town, between Wrexham and Llangollen, and the original hymn tune named after the place was written by the Welsh cleric and poet, John Edwards, who was the minister at Rhosymedre for 40 years.

Vaughan Williams used to boast that he never could play the organ: he said of one of his teachers ‘our friendship survived his despair at my playing’. But he used John Edwards’ original hymn tune as Bach himself had used the Lutheran hymns for which he wrote his own choral preludes.

This is Vaughan Williams’s contribution to the library of organ preludes, written in 1920, and possibly showing the influence of both his passionate interest in folk song and his own experience in the First World War, where although 42 he served firstly as a private in the Medical Corps and then as a second lieutenant in the Royal Artillery. The organ prelude was arranged for orchestra by Arnold Foster.

Mike Torbe

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