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O Thou Transcendent! – Life of Ralph Vaughan Williams – A Tony Palmer film


The first ever full-length film biography of the great man, produced by the multi-award-winning director Tony Palmer, was first shown uncut on Channel Five on New Year’s day 2008.

‘Undoubtedly controversial it will also be very important in raising awareness of Ralph Vaughan Williams. Two and a half hours long, it looks at Vaughan Williams’ life as a disturbed and frustrated one. Powerful with some harrowing imagery, the film firmly dispels the myth that Vaughan Williams was a cuddly folk song collector and recycler who was affectionately known as “Uncle Ralph”.

As well as exploring his musical legacy, Palmer also focuses on the human side of Vaughan Williams. His frustration at living in a cosy market town, looking after an invalid wife (which he did devotedly) and the fury as well as the kindness and humanity which were all features of his remarkable character and which in their turn affected his music.

The music passages are superbly played and filmed. An absolute must see.’ –

With many of those who knew and worked with him, including the Gloucester Cathedral Choir, conducted by Andrew Nethsingha. – Archive performances by Boult and Barbirolli – Newly discovered interviews with Vaughan Williams himself – Specially recorded extracts from The Symphonies, Job, The Lark Ascending and of course The Tallis Fantasia

With unexpected contributions from Harrison Birtwistle, John Adams, Richard Thomspon, Mark Anthony Turnage, Barbara Dickson, Michael Tippett & Neil Tennant of The Pet Shop Boys

Directed & Edited by TONY PALMER

Executive Producer KIM PEAT

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