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Best known for The Lark Ascending, Ralph Vaughan Williams wrote nine symphonies, operas, film scores and was an avid collector of English folk songs.
The composer conducted the London Philharmonic Orchestra in the premiere of his Symphony No.5, dedicated to Sibelius, on 24 June 1943. It offered calming relief from the rigors of London life during the Second World War. As he was already 70, many considered the symphony to be his swan song but Vaughan Williams entered another period of experimental compositions.
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