Symphony No. 5 by English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams was written between 1938 and 1943. In style it represents a shift away from the violent dissonance of the Fourth Symphony, and a return to the more romantic style of the earlier Pastoral Symphony.
Many of the musical themes in the Fifth Symphony stem from Vaughan Williams' then-unfinished operatic work, The Pilgrim's Progress. This opera, or "morality" as Vaughan Williams preferred to call it, had been in gestation for decades, and the composer had temporarily abandoned it at the time the symphony was conceived. Despite its origins, the symphony is without programmatic context, and is in the form of an extended development of musical themes taken from the morality rather than an attempt to cast it directly into symphonic form.
Although nominally in the key of D major, the initial tonality contains a conflict between music in D major and subsequently D minor (with modal coloring) over a sustained pedal point on C, which eventually pulls the tonality temporarily to C minor. Further confusing the issue, early piano scores described the work as being in the key of G. The fourth movement of the symphony establishes D major...