List of compositions by Ralph Vaughan Williams

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Semi-profile of European man in early middle age, clean-shaven, with full head of dark hair
Vaughan Williams c. 1920

The list below shows all known compositions by Ralph Vaughan Williams.


  • Hugh the Drover, or Love in the Stocks (1910–14; revised 1924, 1933, 1956). Romantic ballad opera in 2 acts, with libretto by Harold Child (later revised by Ralph and Ursula Vaughan Williams)
    • A Cotswold Romance, Cantata for tenor, soprano, baritone, chorus and orchestra, adapted from Hugh the Drover by M. Jackson (1950)
  • Sir John in Love (1924–28). Opera in 4 acts, based on The Merry Wives of Windsor by Shakespeare with interpolations from other authors.
    • In Windsor Forest, Cantata for chorus and orchestra, adapted from Sir John in Love (1931)
    • Fantasia on "Greensleeves" for strings and harp, adapted from Sir John in Love by Ralph Greaves (1889-1996) in 1934;
  • The Poisoned Kiss, or The Empress and the Necromancer (1927–29; revisions 1936–37 and 1956–57). Romantic Extravaganza in 3 acts, with libretto by Evelyn Sharp (later amended by Ralph and Ursula Vaughan Williams)
  • Riders to the Sea (1925–32), from the play by J. M. Synge
  • The Pilgrim's Progress (1909–51). Morality in Prologue, 4 acts and Epilogue, based on John Bunyan's allegory
    • The Shepherds of the Delectable Mountains (1921). Libretto: Ralph Vaughan Williams (from John Bunyan) (Later incorporated, save for the final section, into The Pilgrim's Progress)
    • "Seven Songs from The Pilgrim's Progress" for voice and piano (1952)
    • "The 23rd Psalm" for soprano and chorus, arranged by John Churchill (1953)
    • Pilgrim's Journey, Cantata for soprano, tenor, baritone, chorus and orchestra adapted from The Pilgrim's Progress by Christopher Morris and Roy Douglas (1962)
  • Thomas the Rhymer, Opera in 3 acts to libretto by Ursula Vaughan Williams, based on traditional ballads Thomas the Rhymer and Tam Lin. Uncompleted.

Incidental music[edit]

  • The Wasps (1909): to Aristophanes's play The Wasps, Overture and 17 items
    • Aristophanic Suite for orchestra (1912)
  • The Bacchae (1911): to Euripides's tragedy
  • The Death of Tintagiles (1913): to Maurice Maeterlinck's 1894 play[1]
  • Incidental music to Shakespeare's plays (1913): The Merry Wives of Windsor; Richard II, Henry IV Part 2, Richard III, Henry V
  • The First Nowell (1958): nativity play adapted from medieval pageants by Simona Pakenham; score completed by Roy Douglas


  • Old King Cole (1923) for orchestra and optional chorus
  • On Christmas Night (1926): masque adapted from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  • Job: A Masque for Dancing (1930)
    • The Voice out of the Whirlwind, Motet for mixed choir and organ or orchestra; adapted from "Galliard of the Sons of the Morning" from Job
  • The Running Set (1933): Traditional Dance Tunes for orchestra
  • The Bridal Day (1938–39): masque founded on Epithalamion by Edmund Spenser
    • Revised as Epithalamion (1957), Cantata for baritone, chorus and small orchestra




  • The Garden of Proserpine, cantata for soprano, chorus & orchestra, setting of Algernon Charles Swinburne (1899)[7]
  • A Cambridge Mass, Missa brevis for SATB, double chorus & orchestra (1899); Doctoral exercise, first performed 3 March 2011.[8][9][10][11]
  • Willow-Wood, Cantata for baritone, women's chorus and orchestra (1903, revised 1909), setting texts by Rossetti from The House of Life[12]
  • Toward the Unknown Region, song for chorus and orchestra, setting of Walt Whitman (1906)
  • Five Mystical Songs for baritone, chorus, and orchestra, settings of George Herbert (1911)
  • Fantasia on Christmas Carols for baritone, chorus, and orchestra (1912); arranged also for reduced orchestra of organ, strings, percussion)
  • O clap your hands, motet for chorus and orchestra, text from Psalm 47 (1920) [13]
  • "Ca' the yowes" for tenor and chorus (1922), a setting of the folk song by Isabel Pagan/Robert Burns[14]
  • Mass in G minor for unaccompanied choir (1922)
  • Sancta Civitas (The Holy City) oratorio, text mainly from the Book of Revelation (1923–25)
  • Te Deum in G major (1928)
  • Benedicite for soprano, chorus, and orchestra (1929)
  • Three Choral Hymns (1929)
  • Magnificat for contralto, women's chorus, and orchestra (1932)
  • Five Tudor Portraits for contralto, baritone, chorus, and orchestra (1936)
  • Dona nobis pacem, text by Walt Whitman and other sources (1936)
  • Festival Te Deum for chorus and orchestra or organ (1937)
  • Serenade to Music for sixteen solo voices and orchestra, a setting of Shakespeare, dedicated to Sir Henry Wood on the occasion of his Jubilee (1938)
  • "Six Choral Songs To Be Sung In Time Of War" (1940)
  • A Song of Thanksgiving (originally Thanksgiving for Victory) for narrator, soprano solo, children's chorus, mixed chorus, and orchestra (1944)
  • An Oxford Elegy for narrator, mixed chorus, and small orchestra (1949)
  • Folk Songs of the Four Seasons, Cantata for women's voices with orchestra or piano (1949).
    • Suite for small orchestra from Folk Songs of the Four Seasons, arranged by Roy Douglas (1956)
  • Three Shakespeare Songs for SATB unaccompanied, composed for The British Federation of Music Festivals National Competitive Festival (1951)
  • The Sons of Light (1950), Cantata for chorus and orchestra; text by Ursula Vaughan Williams
    • Sun, Moon and Stars (1955), Cycle of four songs from The Sons of Light with strings or piano
  • O Taste and See, a motet setting of Psalm 34:8. The original SATB version was composed for the Coronation of HM Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Abbey in June 1953. (1953)
  • Hodie, a Christmas cantata (1954)
  • A Choral Flourish for unaccompanied SATB chorus, composed for a large choral event in the Royal Albert Hall at the invitation of (and dedicated to) Alan Kirby (c. 1952)
  • O How Amiable (1934) arrangement of a hymn for chorus and organ, originally written for the Abinger Pageant

Hymn-Tunes and Carols[edit]

Vaughan Williams was the musical editor[15] of the English Hymnal of 1906, and the co-editor with Martin Shaw of Songs of Praise of 1925 and the Oxford Book of Carols of 1928, all in collaboration with Percy Dearmer. In addition to arranging many pre-existing hymn tunes and creating hymn tunes based on folk songs, he wrote several original hymn tunes:

  • Original hymn tunes included in The English Hymnal (1906)
    • "Come Down, O Love Divine": entitled Down Ampney in honour of Vaughan Williams's birthplace
    • "God Be With You Till We Meet Again" (Randolph)
    • "Hail Thee, Festival day" (Salva festa dies)
    • "For All the Saints" (Sine Nomine)
  • Original hymn tunes included in Songs of Praise (1925)
    • "Saviour, again to Thy dear name" (Magda)
    • "The night is come like to the day" (Oakley)
    • "Servants of God" (Cumnor)
    • "England Arise! the long, long night is over" (Guildford)
    • "At the Name of Jesus" (King's Weston)
  • Original tunes included in Oxford Book of Carols (1928)
    • The Golden Carol ("Now is Christmas y-come")
    • Wither's Rocking Hymn ("Sweet baby, sleep!")
    • Snow in the Street ("From far away we come to you")
    • Blake's Cradle Song ("Sweet dreams, form a shade")
  • Extra original hymn tunes included in the enlarged edition of Songs of Praise (1931)
    • "Into the woods my master went" (Mantegna)
    • "Servants of the great adventure" (Marathon)
    • "I vow to thee my country" (Abinger)
    • "Let us now praise famous men" (Famous Men)
    • "Fierce raised the tempest" (White Gates)


  • To daffodils, song (1895), setting text by Herrick[16]
  • Dirge for Fidele, duet (1895), setting text by Shakespeare from Cymbeline, published 1922
  • Rondel, song (1896), setting text by Swinburne
  • "How can the tree but wither", song (1896), setting text by Thomas, Lord Vaux
  • Claribel, song (1896), setting text by Tennyson
  • Linden Lea, song (1901); from the William Barnes poem “My Orcha’d in Lindèn Lea”
  • Blackmwore by the Stour, song (1902); from the William Barnes poem “Blackmwore Maïdens”
  • Boy Johnny, song (1902), setting text by Christina Rossetti
  • "If I were a Queen", duet (1903), setting text by Christina Rossetti
  • "When I am dead, my dearest", song (1903), setting text by Christina Rossetti
  • Dreamland, song, setting text by Christina Rossetti
  • "Tears, idle tears", song (1903), setting text by Tennyson
  • "The splendour falls", song, setting text by Tennyson
  • The Winter's Willow, song (1903); from the William Barnes poem of the same name
  • Adieu, duet, translated from German by Arthur Foxton Ferguson (1903)
  • "Think of Me", duet, translated from German by Arthur Foxton Ferguson (1903)
  • "Orpheus with his lute", song (1904), setting text by Shakespeare
  • The House of Life, six sonnets by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1904): 1. Lovesight; 2. Silent noon; 3. Love's minstrels; 4. Heart's haven; 5. Death-in-Love; 6. Love's last gift
  • Songs of Travel, song cycle for baritone and piano, setting texts by R. L. Stevenson (1901–04)
    • "Whither Must I Wander", song (1902)
    • Songs 1 3 8 arranged for baritone and orchestra (1905)
    • "I have trod the upward and the downward slope" was added to the original eight songs in 1960, after the composer's death
    • Songs 2 4 5 6 7 9 arranged for baritone & orchestra by Roy Douglas (1962)
  • The Sky Above The Roof, song (1908), setting translation by Mabel Dearmer of Paul Verlaine poem 'Le ciel est pardessus le toit'
  • On Wenlock Edge, song cycle (1909) for tenor, piano and string quartet, setting texts by [A. E. Housman]
  • Four Hymns: (1914) for tenor and piano (or strings) with viola obbligato
  • Merciless Beauty three rondels for tenor, two violins and cello (1921)
  • Four Poems by Fredegond Shove: for baritone and piano (1922–25): 1. Motion and Stillness; 2. Four Nights; 3. The New Ghost; 4. The Water Mill
  • Two Poems by Seumas O'Sullivan (1925): 1. The Twilight People; 2. A Piper;
  • Three Songs from Shakespeare (1925): 1. Take, O take those lips away; 2. When icicles hang by the wall; 3. Orpheus with his lute
  • Three Poems by Walt Whitman for baritone and piano (1925): 1. Nocturne; 2. A Clear Midnight; 3. Joy, Shipmate, Joy!
  • Two Vocal Duets, for soprano, baritone and violin with piano, setting texts by Walt Whitman (1904)
  • Along the Field, for tenor and violin, setting texts by A. E. Housman (1927)
  • In the Spring, song (1952); from the William Barnes poem of the same name
  • Ten Blake Songs, song cycle for high voice and oboe (1957), written for film The Vision of William Blake
  • Four Last Songs (1954–58) to poems of Ursula Vaughan Williams: 1. Procris; 2. Tired; 3. Hands, Eyes and Heart; 4. Menelaus
  • 3 Vocalises (wordless) for soprano and clarinet (1958)


  • String Quartet in C minor (1898)
  • Quintet in D major for clarinet, horn, violin, cello, and piano (1898)
  • Piano Quintet in C minor for violin, viola, cello, double bass and piano (1903)
  • Scherzo for string quintet (1904)
  • Nocturne & Scherzo for string quintet (1906)[17]
  • String Quartet No. 1 in G minor (1908)
  • Phantasy Quintet for 2 violins, 2 violas, and cello (1912)
  • Suite de Ballet for flute and piano (1913–24)
  • Romance and Pastorale for violin and piano (1914)
  • Romance for viola and piano (undated; possibly 1914)
  • Six Studies in English Folk Song, for cello (or clarinet, violin, viola) and piano (1926)
  • Double Trio for string sextet (1938): withdrawn and revised as Partita for Double String Orchestra
  • Suite for Pipes (1939)
  • Household Music: Three Preludes on Welsh Hymn Tunes for string quartet or other instruments (1941): 1. Fantasia, Crug-y-bar; 2. Scherzo, St. Denio; 3. Variation, Aberystwyth
  • String Quartet No. 2 in A minor ("For Jean, on her birthday," 1942–44)
  • Sonata in A minor for violin and piano (1952)


  • Pezzo Ostinato for piano (1905)
  • Three Preludes for Organ founded on Welsh hymn tunes (1920); 1. Bryn Calfaria, 2. Rhosymedre, 3. Hyfrydol
    • No. 2 & No. 3 arranged for orchestra by Arnold Foster
    • Arranged for two pianos by Leslie Russell (1939)
  • Suite of Six Short Pieces for piano (1921)
    • Arranged for string orchestra by James Brown in collaboration with the composer as The Charterhouse Suite (1923)
  • Prelude and Fugue in C minor for organ (1921)
    • Version for orchestra (1930)
  • Hymn Tune Prelude on 'Song 13' by Orlando Gibbons for piano (1930)
    • Arranged for string orchestra by Helen Glatz
  • Six Teaching Pieces for piano (1934)
  • A Wedding Tune for Ann for organ (1943)
  • A Winter Piece for piano (1943)
  • Introduction and Fugue for two pianos (1947)
  • The Old One Hundredth Psalm Tune, harmonisation and arrangement (1953)
  • Two Organ Preludes founded on Welsh Folk Songs (1956): 1. Romanza, The White Rock; 2. Toccata, St. David's Day

Film scores[edit]

Scores for radio[edit]

  • BBC adaptation by Edward Sackville-West of John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress, 1942
    • Some of this music was later used in the Morality Play The Pilgrim's Progress
  • Richard II (1944); not used
  • Incidental music to BBC production of Thomas Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge, 1951
    • Prelude on an Old Carol Tune (1953) was adapted from this incidental music


  • Rhosymedre (based on a Welsh hymn tune for organ) for concert band (1920)
  • English Folk Songs, Suite for military band (1923)
    • Arranged for brass band by Gordon Jacob (1924)
    • Arranged for orchestra by Gordon Jacob (1942)
    • Arranged for piano by Michael Mullinar (1949)
  • Sea Songs, Quick march for military and brass bands (1923)
    • Arranged by composer for orchestra (1942)
  • Toccata Marziale for military band (1924)
  • Overture: Henry V for brass band (1933/34)
  • Flourish for Wind Band (1939)
  • Prelude on Three Welsh Hymn Tunes for brass band (1955): 1. Ebenezer; 2. Calfaria; 3. Hyfrydol
  • Variations for brass band (1957)
    • Arranged for orchestra by Gordon Jacob (1960)

See also[edit]

  • Kennedy, Michael: A Catalogue of the Works of Vaughan Williams[22]
  • List of works by category on the website of the Ralph Vaughan Williams Society [1]
  • The Da Capo Catalog of Classical Music Compositions[23]


  1. ^ The Death of Tintagiles
  2. ^ Recorded in completion by James Francis Brown. Some ideas were used again in A London Symphony - see notes by Stephen Connock with Albion Records CD ALBCD016
  3. ^ Recorded in edition by James Francis Brown. Opening clarinet melody was used again in A Sea Symphony, in The England of Elizabeth and in Symphony No. 9 - see notes by Stephen Connock with Albion Records CD ALBCD016
  4. ^ There were two other Norfolk Rhapsodies from the same period: Norfolk Rhapsody No. 2 has been recorded in a completion by Stephen Hogger (Chandos CD 10001), but the score of the third was lost. See Norfolk Rhapsody No. 1 for details.
  5. ^ Some of the music was used again in An Oxford Elegy. Another impression for orchestra from the same period, Boldre Wood, has not survived - see notes by Stephen Connock with Albion Records CD ALBCD016
  6. ^ see "YouTube videoclip" under External Links
  7. ^ Stainer & Bell Ralph Vaughan Williams: The Garden of Proserpine
  8. ^ Discovery announcement on Classic FM Website
  9. ^ World Premiere of Ralph Vaughan Williams' 'A Cambridge Mass' Archived 2011-08-16 at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ Review of premier performance in The Telegraph
  11. ^ Research by Alan Tongue
  12. ^ Notes by Lewis Foreman with Naxos CD 8.557798
  13. ^ Notes by Michael Kennedy with EMI CDM 7 69820 2
  14. ^ "Ralph Vaughan Williams". Robert Burns choral settings. 25 February 2014. Retrieved 22 January 2018. 
  15. ^ see "1956 audio interview" under External Links
  16. ^ Notes by Stephen Connock included with Albion Records CD ALBCD002
  17. ^ Notes by Michael Kennedy with Hyperion CD CDA 67381/2
  18. ^ The music was based on folksongs and the film describes the work of the National Trust - see notes by Michael Kennedy with Chandos CD CHAN 10007
  19. ^ The composer wrote more music than was actually used in the finished film: see notes by Michael Kennedy to Chandos CD 10007
  20. ^ This was a short Central Office of Information film. The music was based on folksongs and incorporates parts of Five Variants on Dives and Lazarus: see notes by Michael Kennedy with Chandos CD CHAN 10244
  21. ^ Notes with Chandos CD CHAN 10368
  22. ^ Kennedy, Michael: A Catalogue of the Works of Vaughan Williams, OUP, 1964; revised edition, OUP, 1996
  23. ^ Jerzy Chwialkowski: The Da Capo Catalog of Classical Music Compositions, Da Capo Press, 1996