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8 Reviews
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Getting to know you!
As someone who knew absolutey nothing about him I found this book fascinating. It left me feeling like I really did know Vaughan Williams and what is more that I would want to know him. Surviving the first world war as he did through active service he made me realise just how many great men like him must have perished. A great and informative read and I would recommend it...
Published on 5 April 2008 by Lex Harker

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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK as a general introduction for beginners
This is a reasonable introduction to the life and works of Ralph Vaughan Williams. I purchased it with great interest as he is one of my favourite composers but I was a little disappointed as this book didn't tell me a single thing about the composer that I didn't already know.
Maybe I was expecting too much. As a general, unpretentious, survey for those who know...
Published on 29 Aug. 2003 by Jeffrey Davis


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Getting to know you!, 5 April 2008
This review is from: Vaughan Williams (Paperback)
As someone who knew absolutey nothing about him I found this book fascinating. It left me feeling like I really did know Vaughan Williams and what is more that I would want to know him. Surviving the first world war as he did through active service he made me realise just how many great men like him must have perished. A great and informative read and I would recommend it to others on the basis that you learn more about his music and also his life .I am so impressed by his willingness to learn from others, his ability to instill "Englishness" to his music without great pomp and any leaning toward the xenophobic. The lasting impression I have of him is of the great value he placed on his friends his relationships and his enduring sense of duty to humanity through his life and his music and the fact that this did not stifle his creative spirit as he grew older. When I look at the photograph on the front cover of the book now it is like I am seeing an old family friend.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK as a general introduction for beginners, 29 Aug. 2003
By 
Jeffrey Davis "jmd555555" (Sussex UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Vaughan Williams (Paperback)
This is a reasonable introduction to the life and works of Ralph Vaughan Williams. I purchased it with great interest as he is one of my favourite composers but I was a little disappointed as this book didn't tell me a single thing about the composer that I didn't already know.
Maybe I was expecting too much. As a general, unpretentious, survey for those who know little about RVW it is fine but not recommended for the initiated.
The charming photograph of RVW and Foxy, his favourite cat, on the front cover, is something in its favour however!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A plausible start, 9 July 2009
By 
J. Hutchings "jjhutchings" (Framlingham, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Vaughan Williams (Paperback)
I am in the midst of preparing to teach Vaughan Williams's 5th Symphony as part of the new AQA A2 specification, so am gathering about me as much information on VW as I can.

This book is an excellent, almost novel-like, introduction into the man's life and work. Heffer writes in an accessible style, and the book is coherent and logical in its layout. Not much is spent exploring VW in a musicological manner, and what could be considered major works are referred to somewhat briefly (frustrating when looking for facts on VW5).

That said, let's not belittle it: VW's output is considerable by any composer's standards, and one could argue equally as varied, ranging from church to opera house, taking in symphony hall and drawing room on the way. I shall be recommending it to those students thinking of taking him on for a personal study.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent introduction, 5 July 2008
This review is from: Vaughan Williams (Hardcover)
I think that the two previous reviewers are right in their judgements but slightly miss the point for the average reader of reviews looking for enlightenment. Certainly this is a slender volume. Well-researched but with no great revelations. Even so, I had enormous pleasure from reading such an affectionate and well-written introduction to VWs life and work. The ideal reader would probably be someone who has heard and loved a few pieces but wants to know what to listen to next. With any great composer who moves us, we want to understand the context of their work as this can profoundly enhance our enjoyment and understanding of the music. Simon Heffer's book serves this purpose extremely well. It is clear that he is a genuine lover of the music and is especially good on the profoundly interesting (but less frequently performed) works that saw VWs musical language transformed in the run-up to the Second World War. For the "life" others may feel that VWs personal relationships are not scrutinised for the sort of juicy details that biographers seem to obsess over. A recent TV biography spent most of its running time deconstructing his relationships with many beautiful young women but managed to avoid entirely the absolutely central friendship with Gustav Holst. Heffer makes no such mistake and we really do get to understand what influenced his musical development. Heffer's excellent book sent me off to listen to a couple of works that I did not know and which proved to hold exactly the revelations promised. He also reminded me of works that I had not listened to for a while and sent me back to listen again with fresh insight. Michael Kennedy and Ursula Vaughan Williams herself have both produced excellent books for those who want to dig deeper but this is the best short introduction I know.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and objective concise biography, 13 Feb. 2013
By 
Hywel James "Hywel James" (Devon, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Vaughan Williams (Paperback)
Simon Heffer has produced in this concise biography a fair, well-balanced and informative guide to a composer who has only comparatively recently come to be fully recognised by the public at large, as opposed to a band of followers who never lost the faith, as a great composer. There are fuller and more comprehensive books about Vaughan Williams and his music but this one is an admirable introduction and serves well as a taster, not least in terms of providing good insights for people who want to know more about the man who wrote "The Lark Ascending" and the music for "Scott of the Antarctic". Another reviewer here on Amazon says the book told him nothing new. Well, as someone who has loved Vaughan Williams' music since about 1955, and who met the composer's widow on a number of occasions, I can say that, for example, I didn't know he had turned down a knighthood. There are plenty of good things to be learned from this book. Highly recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars biography, 9 July 2013
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This review is from: Vaughan Williams (Paperback)
The book is very authorative and fine for musical background and influences on the composer's life. It does avoid too much information regarding the personal life of the composer.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Vaughan Williams, 10 Dec. 2012
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Mrs. E. M. Ball (Mt Hawke, Cornwall) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Vaughan Williams (Hardcover)
Very informative, lots of information about his life and music and the times in which he lived. Pleased that he was recognised in his own lifetime.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 3 May 2015
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This review is from: Vaughan Williams (Paperback)
Fine
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Vaughan Williams
Vaughan Williams by Simon Heffer
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