Ralph is not Rafe!
September 28, 2010
I grew up within listening distance of BBC Radio and TV programs and yet it took me a while to appreciate the amazing depth of their classical music broadcasts. In the days when I was faking illness and playing what Americans call hookey and doing what Brits call Skiving I watched a TV program called either BBC Schools or Open University. In the intervals between programs classical music was played. Prokofiev, Debussy, Vaughan Williams, Ravel and more fin de siecle and early 20thCentury greats. It fired my passion for classical music that burns even stronger now, and with a wider flame.
But in those far off times the greats had to compete with Chuck Berry, The Modern Jazz Quartet and Sextet, The Rolling Stones, Otis Redding, and all the burgeoning flowers of rock, soul, and jazz. But when I listened to the greats on the Beeb I never once heard an announcer pronounce the forename of Vaughan Williams as Rafe. It was always Ralph, Ralph with an L.
And for years announcers on classical stations across America continued to call him Ralph. Only recently have I noticed a disturbing habit of calling this wonderful composer Rafe. My reaction has been to say, who? Are you talking about the composer I know?
It strikes me as pretentious, and posing. OK so Ralph Fiennes wants to be called Rafe; and he is still alive (I think)
I admit that I do not know what his Mummy and Daddy called Ralph Vaughan WIlliams but can the BBC be wrong?
Before I call up my long suffering local classical station to lambast them I am interested in your opinion. Sadly misguided as it may be. Long live Ralph with an L, as in Lummox! And now I am orf to lissen to sum Freddie Chopping or izit Bennie Britn?