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Vaughan Williams: String Quartet No. 2

Here’s a hint: beautiful music from England’s darkest hours…

Ralph Vaughan Williams’s second numbered string quartet was completed in the grim years of the Second World War. During the war years, the composer helped to organize lunchtime concerts at the National Gallery to support the war effort. This quartet was dedicated as a birthday present to a Mrs. Jean Stewart, the violist of the Menges Quartet, who premiered the work at one of these lunchtime concerts. Around this same time, Vaughan Williams had also become interested in film scoring, and connections may often be found between his film and concert music. He had planned to also use some of the music from this beautiful Epilogue in a film about Joan of Arc, although the film was ultimately never made. In a clever mood, the composer continued to tip his hat to his fellow-violist, subtitling the movement “From Joan to Jean.”

Music Heard On This Episode

Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958): String Quartet No. 2; “For Jean on her Birthday,” mvt. 4
Maggini Quartet — Vaughan Williams: Phantasy Quintet/String Quartets 1 & 2 (Naxos, 2001)
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album cover
Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958): String Quartet No. 2; “For Jean on her Birthday,” mvt. 4
Maggini Quartet — Vaughan Williams: Phantasy Quintet/String Quartets 1 & 2 (Naxos, 2001)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover

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