Ralph Vaughan Williams, the British’s most distinctive composer: His achievements this year must be celebrated

This year marks the 150th anniversary the birth Ralph Vaughan Williams. Now regarded as one the finest, and perhaps the most British, of these composers, this event is significant.

It wasn’t always so. I can remember his centenary in 1972, when he was much more of a connoisseurs’ choice than a popular favourite.

For example, the Lark didn’t Ascend much in 1972. Now it’s one of the best loved pieces of orchestral music, with a following way beyond classical music buffs.

So much of what we have been listening to over the past few weeks owes a huge debt to the extraordinary dedication of Ralph Vaughan Williams (above) to British music, not just his own

Much of what you have been hearing over the last few weeks is a direct result of Ralph Vaughan Williams’s dedication to British music.

It is important to set the Lark, and other stuff like the Tallis Fantasia or the Fantasia On Greensleeves against more powerful music such as his Fourth and Sixth Symphonies.

There are not many lambkins wandering around the Pastoral. It’s VW’s reflections about driving his ambulance at the Front at night to a high point and looking over the killing fields of the Somme.

His role as father of a British music school should be celebrated. This includes composers like Holst or Finzi who were inspired by traditional songs from the folk.

VW, along with hand-picked associates, meticulously collected this music in the early tenth of the twentieth century. Any passing farmer was vulnerable to being grabbed, and then prompted to hum the tune. It saved music that was otherwise lost.

The remarkable effort to clean up Victorian hymn tunes is also impressive. Also, traditional carols can be collected.

We owe so much to VW’s dedication to British music and not only his own, for so many of our recent listening choices.

Blessed with an extended life span, he kept writing until the end. He should be remembered for his unselfish efforts and huge achievements.