Ralph Vaughn Williams was an influential English composer, savior of British folk music and song, and blood relative to Charles Darwin. He studied at the Royal Conservatory and Cambridge, then later with Bruch and Ravel.
In 1904, he became a major champion and preservationist of English folk songs, which were fast becoming extinct due to the widespread circulation of printed music in rural areas. Visiting the countryside, he transcribed and preserved many songs himself, and his fascination with the beauty of the music and its anonymous history greatly shaped his own compositions. In part due to his close study of his country's folk music, Vaughan Williams' music has often been said to be characteristically English, which may have been best categorized by Fuller Maitland, who noted that when confronted with Vaughan Williams' style "one is never quite sure whether one is listening to something very old or very new."