The English Music Festival in May will include the World Premiere of the ‘Richard II’ Concert Fantasy by Ralph Vaughan Williams.

This is the complete incidental music the composer was commissioned to write for Frank Benson’s 1912-13 production at Stratford. 

Vaughan Williams first discovered Shakespeare as a child when he was given the complete edition by his relative, Caroline Darwin, and ‘Richard II’ become a favourite.

The composer took Shakespeare’s many references to English folk-ballads as supporting his own ‘national’ approach to music, saying “Shakespeare makes an international appeal for the very reason that he is so national and English in his outlook.”

He went on to set and write over 20 Shakespeare texts and incidental music, often using folk-songs and ballads, and the well-known ‘Greensleeves’ appears in ‘Richard II’.

‘Richard II’ Concert Fantasy will be performed as part of the opening festival concert in Oxfordshire’s Dorchester Abbey by the BBC Concert Orchestra under Conductor, Martin Yates. 

You can find out more at the English Music Festival website.