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Ralph Vaughan Williams

Ralph Vaughan Williams (trans. Walter Beeler)

Subtitle: Prelude on a Welsh Hymn Tune

General Info

Year: 1920 / 1972
Duration: c. 3:40
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Organ
Publisher: Galaxy Music
Cost: Score and Parts - $58.50   |   Score Only: $7.50


Full Score
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Contra-Alto Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Sax I-II
Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Cornet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
Euphonium I-II
String Bass (3-4 players preferred, doubling Contrabassoon)
Percussion, including:

  • Chimes (or Tubular Bells)


In Parts:

  • B-flat Bass Clarinet: First system of the part has two sharps; it should have one sharp (it should be in the key of G Major). All other systems in the part are correct.

Program Notes

In 1920 Ralph Vaughan Williams composed three preludes for organ based on Welsh hymn tunes, a set that quickly established itself in the organ repertoire. Of the three, Rhosymedre, sometimes known as "Lovely," has become the most popular. The hymn tune used in this prelude was written by a 19th century Welsh composer, J.D. Edwards, and is a very simple melody made up almost entirely of scale tones and upbeat skips of a fourth. Yet, around this modest tune Vaughan Williams has constructed a piece of grand proportions, with a broad arc that soars with the gradual rise of the tune itself.

The hymn tune in long values is surrounded by a moving bass line and a treble obbligato in faster notes often characterized by descending sixths. Vaughan Williams has joined together hymn tune, bass, and obbligato in such a way as to create an exceedingly fresh and ingratiating tonal language, which seems all the more remarkable when one discovers from the score that there is scarcely an accidental in the entire piece.

- Program Note by Walter Beeler

The use of English folk songs and hymn tunes is prevalent in the music of Vaughan Williams and Holst during the early part of the twentieth century. While Rhosymedre is not an original work for band, it reflects the composer’s interest in English folk songs and their use in his early compositions. The work of the Folk Song Society proved important to both Vaughan Williams and Holst, as well as Grainger. All of these incorporated and preserved the heritage of English folk music in their works for band, including Vaughan William’s English Folk Song Suite, Holst’s First Suite in E-flat and Second Suite in F, and Grainger’s Lincolnshire Posy.

- Program Note from Teaching Music Through Performance in Band, Vol. 2


State Ratings

  • Florida: IV --- (The Florida Bandmasters Association denotes this as "significant literature.")
  • Maryland: IV
  • South Carolina: V
  • North Carolina: IV
  • Texas: IV


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

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  • Ball State University (Muncie, Ind.) Concert Band (Madison Argo, conductor) – 26 February 2020
  • Houghton (N.Y.) College Wind Ensemble (Dakota Hirsch, conductor) – 21 February 2020
  • La Sierra University (Riverside, Calif.) Wind Ensemble (David Brennan, conductor) – 15 February 2020
  • Southland Wind Ensemble (Ontario, Calif.) (George Osorio, conductor) - 8 February 2020
  • Lafayette High School (Lexington, Ky.) Wind Symphony (John Cody Birdwell, conductor) – 1 February 2020
  • Southern Adventist University (Collegedale, Tenn.) Wind Symphony (Ken Parsons, conductor) - 13 October 2019
  • University of Illinois (Champaign) Wind Symphony (Stephen G. Peterson, conductor) – 1 May 2019
  • Indiana University (Bloomington) All-Campus Band (Alex Baczewski and Jeff Osarczuk, conductors) – 16 April 2019
  • University of North Texas (Denton) University Band (Jochen McEvoy, conductor) – 8 April 2019
  • West Virginia University (Morgantown) Symphonic Band (Stephen Lytle, conductor) – 5 March 2019
  • University of Arizona (Tucson) Wind Symphony (Yudai Ueda, conductor) – 8 February 2019

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works