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Haunting music: Thomas Tallis and Vaughan Williams

The haunting music of Ralph Vaughan Williams, meditating on a theme by Thomas Tallis.

When I heard this music, I saw winter sunlight glowing on bare branches in England, and the sound of a stream silvering the darkening air. No doubt it speaks differently to each listener.

A strange bond connects the two composers. Thomas Tallis died almost four hundred years before Vaughan Williams was born. An avowed Roman Catholic, Tallis served the turbulent Tudors, both Catholic and Protestant monarchs, with mildness and an unswerving dedication to his music.

The son of a clergyman, Vaughan Williams was not said to be religious, but he saved England's folk melodies before they disappeared forever, and poured their beautiful melodies into the Anglican hymnal.

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