Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) was an influential British composer and folk-song collector. His powerful and expressive orchestral music is notable for its very “English” sound. His early adventures collecting folk songs in the English countryside profoundly influenced his later compositions. Along with Gustav Holst, his works for wind band form a foundation for the serious literature in that medium.
Toccata Marziale is a masterpiece of both counterpoint and instrumental color, and a truly unique and important work in the wind band repertoire. Written in 1924 for the Commemoration of the British Empire Exhibition, it was only Vaughan Williams’s second work for wind band, after the English Folk Song Suite of 1923. Toccata Marziale shares the key of B-flat and the melodic germ (sol-do-re-do) with Vaughan Williams’s much later Flourish for Wind Band (1939), so the two make a great prelude and fugue sort of pair.
Read about Toccata Marziale at the Wind Repertory Project, Tim Reynish’s Website, and the Palatine Concert Band. There are many print and scholarly sources on this piece as well, so do not think of this page as your last stop!
The Ralph Vaughan Williams Society – the source for anything you might ever possibly want to know about the composer.