The work, which is believed to have been composed by Williams as part of his doctorate at Cambridge University, was discovered among manuscripts in the institution’s library and will be premiered next March in a concert at the Fairfield Halls, Croydon.
Recognised as one of England’s greatest ever composers, by the end of his life Williams had composed music covering almost every genre, having written nine symphonies, six operas, a ballet and a variety of hymn tunes and scores for the stage and screen.
Indeed, his philosophy towards music was that it should be available to everyone, regardless of class, which goes some way to explaining why he focused on the simplicity of folk music and church hymns in his work.
“After the exhibition closed, I visited the Manuscripts Room and asked to see the mass. I sat enthralled, turning over the pages in the hushed atmosphere and trying to imagine the sounds. Here was clearly a work from a great composer.”
Meanwhile, Dr Paul Wingfield, director of studies in music at Trinity College, told Classic FM that it was amazing that the work had been undiscovered for such a long period of time.
“It is in retrospect embarrassing that scholars have overlooked something that was right under their noses for so long, and it reminds us how wrong were the Cambridge tutors who predicted that Vaughan Williams would never amount to much as a composer,” he added.
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