There was an absolutely storming biography of Ralph Vaughan Williams on BBC4 this evening. I've been a huge fan of VW's stuff since I was a kiddie, but I never bothered to find out anything about him, and this film filled in the background admirably. Very popular with the ladies, VW, apparently.
I really do think Vaughan Williams is the only English composer to have captured `Englishness,' or at least Englishness as it was when he was alive - although I think it was dying even then. Elgar comes close, but I find him extraordinarily pompous. Holst almost manages it in some of the movements of The Planets, but only Vaughan Williams does it properly, to my mind. I'm not a terribly nationalistic chap - I find nationalism rather disturbing, to be honest with you - but I think of VW as a kind of soundtrack to the way I feel about my country. If you want to know what kind of sound my soul makes, listen to the Tallis Fantasia.