News and Information
Annual General Meeting
Sunday 14 October 2018
Members are invited to the Society’s Annual General Meeting on Sunday 14 October, to be held at Denbies Wine Estate, London Road, Dorking, Surrey RH5 6AA. The meeting will take place in the Ranmore Suite, which is on the ground floor. We welcome our guest speaker Andrew Neill, a long-standing member of the Society and a former Chairman of the Elgar Society, who will talk to us about Michael Kennedy, Vaughan Williams’s friend and musical biographer.
Denbies is only 8.5 miles (along narrow lanes) from Leith Hill Place (RH5 6LY), with its newly enlarged Ralph Vaughan Williams exhibition. It will be open from 11.00 am for members wishing to visit before the AGM.
For members requiring lunch, Denbies has two restaurants – the Gallery restaurant (booking recommended at www.denbies.co.uk) and the Conservatory restaurant which is not bookable. There is ample free car parking.
We look forward to seeing you there.
Order of Events
15.00 Annual General Meeting:
- Welcome by the Chairman
- Chairman’s Annual Report
- Membership Officer’s Report
- Treasurer’s Report
- Adoption of the Annual Report and Accounts of The Ralph Vaughan Williams Society for 2017-2018
- Election or re-election of trustees and Independent Examiner
- Any other business
- 16.00 Talk by Andrew Neill: My Friend Michael Kennedy
- 17.00 Refreshments / Close
Election and Re-Election of Trustees
The trustees of the Society are as detailed in the annual accounts of The Ralph Vaughan Williams Society.
The Society’s Constitution specifies a minimum number of six trustees, but no maximum. All the present trustees are eligible and present themselves for reelection.
Please send any expressions of interest for consideration for election as a trustee to the Secretary, Martin Murray, at the Society’s registered office: North House, 198 High Street, Tonbridge, Kent, TN9 1BE to arrive by no later than Friday, 29 September 2018 or email us at: email@example.com
The Society is assisted by a number of “officers” who do not wish to be trustees. We welcome expressions of interest from members to help support the Society in pursuing its objectives, whether as a trustee or in other ways.
Updated 6 June 2018
The Art of Darwin Cousins, Gwen Raverat, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Frances Cornford
Exhibition runs from Saturday 8 September – Wednesday 31 October
Talk by Williams Pryor (grandson of Gwen Ravert) Saturday 13 October at 5.30pm
Tickets from www.raverat.com
Celebrating the legacy and friendship of the artist, writer and wood engraver Gwen Raverat, her cousin the poet Frances Cornford and their cousin Ralph Vaughan Williams. There will be paintings & 50 wood engravings by Raverat, poems by Frances Cornford while the talk will feature excerpts from Vaughan Williams’s Job – A Masque For Dancing which was designed by Raverat. All the wood engravings are for sale.
Updated 9 August 2018
We Will Remember Them: Vaughan Williams’s Secret Salute to the Fallen of the Great War: ‘The Shepherds of the Delectable Mountains’
Saturday, September 8th 2018 at 5.30pm
Leith Hill Place (National Trust) near Dorking, Surrey: RVW’s childhood home.
A talk by writer and broadcaster Andrew Green to mark the centenary of the Armistice, focusing on new research linked to Vaughan Williams short opera The Shepherds of the Delectable Mountains and the sixtieth anniversary of Vaughan Williams’s death.
Vaughan Williams famously remained all but silent about his horrific experiences on the Western Front in the Great War. Andrew Green’s analysis of the text of his short 1922 opera The Shepherds of the Delectable Mountains strongly suggests that this is his tribute to the fallen of the Great War and an offering of consolation to the bereaved…while also containing memories of the pastoral landscape in which Vaughan Williams served in 1916 and 1918.
Updated 25 July 2018
Music from John Sykes – a pupil of Vaughan Williams
The Ralph Vaughan Williams Society and Albion Records are joining forces with a group of former pupils of John Austin Sykes, who was in turn a pupil of Vaughan Williams, to make a recording of some of his work. You can learn more about John Sykes at http://www.jasykes.talktalk.net/ where you can find a large catalogue of his music.
John Sykes (1909 –1962) studied organ under Douglas Fox, gained his F.R.C.O. while still a schoolboy, and went up to Oxford as Balliol College Organ Scholar in 1928. In 1932 he went to the Royal College of Music for a year and studied composition under Ralph Vaughan Williams, Gordon Jacob and R. O. Morris. He was a brilliant pianist (the Oxford undergraduate magazine Isis claimed he could ‘make a piano do anything but swim’), and a prodigious composer. He spent his whole working life (1939 to 1962, except for war service as a conscientious objector) teaching music at Kingswood School, Bath.
The Kingswood School archives hold over a hundred transcriptions of his music, prepared by a group of his pupils. The works for recording will be selected from his settings of William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience and other song settings, incidental music for plays, music for the chapel and his chamber music. In his book Sensibility and English Song Professor Stephen Banfield described one of Sykes’ song settings thus: ‘… with its wonderfully crafted melody and plastic metre, its sensibility of both romantic refinement and archaic artifice, and its transfixing marriage of an 18th-century text with a 16th-century manner, it seems the perfect encapsulation in English song of one era’s transmutation of another.‘ This is music of quality, which we want to record for posterity.
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Updated 4 July 2018
A Weekend of Celebration
7th/8th July 2018
St. Martin’s Church, Dorking
The William Cole Church Music Trust at St. Martin’s Church is putting on a weekend of celebration on 7th/8th July 2018. On 7th July at 12 noon, Dan Collins, countertenor from “The 16” is singing a selection of Vaughan William songs. This recital is free with retiring collection and lasts about 40 minutes. In the evening “The Martineau Singers” are singing a selection of songs related to Vaughan Williams and his associates. Tickets are available on the door at £10 a ticket. On Sunday evening St. Martins choir are performing Choral evensong, again with a Vaughan Williams theme.
Updated 27 May 2018
Down Ampney Festival
August bank holiday weekend (UK), 24th-27th inclusive.
Down Ampney, Gloucestershire, (Birthplace)
2018 marks the 60th anniversary of the death of Ralph Vaughan Williams. To commemorate and celebrate the life of this extraordinary musician the Vaughan Williams Festival presents a series of 10 concerts, lectures and events over the course of the August bank holiday weekend, 24th-27th inclusive (UK). There is also a world premiere Sonata for Viola and Piano scheduled from our Composer-in-Residence, David Bednall. A stellar line-up of internationally acclaimed musicians will join forces to form ‘The Vaughan Williams Ensemble’ for the duration of the Festival. The focal point will naturally be Vaughan Williams, but the programmes will also include music by his teachers, mentors, contemporaries and disciples. Visit the Festival website for more information and tickets
Updated 23 May 2018
Toward the Sun Rising
Ralph Vaughan Williams Remembered
It might surprise many members of the RVW Society that a book of recollections about Vaughan Williams should emerge sixty years after the composer’s death. Its author, Stephen Connock began collecting detailed memories in 1996, working in close collaboration with the composer’s second wife, Ursula Vaughan Williams who gave him introductions to people such as: Simona Pakenham, Michael Kennedy, Roy Douglas, Sir David Willcocks, Ruth Gipps, Jill Balcon and Robert Armstrong. The interviews involved those who knew him as relatives, friends or musical colleagues during his long life. There were even then, a great many people around in the mid-1990s who still remembered him.
Stephen began to tape-record the recollections of these individuals and then, with the welcome help of John Whittaker, a member of the RVW Society, began to film contributors. Most of this work was undertaken between 1996 and 2003 and, in total, there are now 67 individual recollections. These are what Stephen calls ‘Primary Memories’ – recollections directly commissioned for his book – and 46 have been transcribed in full in Toward the Sun Rising – Ralph Vaughan Williams Remembered. To these ‘Primary Memories’ Stephen added 39 of what he calls ‘Additional Memories’, ranging from Larry Adler to Virginia Woolf. These were taken mainly from published books, magazine articles and broadcasts (UK and USA) and also from unpublished sources in the Vaughan Williams Collection at the British Library in London. These ‘Additional Memories’ are generally provided by people who had died before Stephen began his work.
The book brings all this material together in a comprehensive Introduction. In this 77-page Note, recollections are placed in a broadly chronological order, touching on the main developments in Vaughan Williams’s life. This section also includes separate paragraphs on Adeline Fisher, Ursula Wood, the First and Second World Wars, Vaughan Williams as teacher and conductor and brief comments on Vaughan Williams and religion as well as politics.
Alongside the ‘Memories’, other material has been added, mainly from unpublished sources in the British Library and from Stephen Connock’s collection of the letters of Ursula Vaughan Williams which she gave him for use in this book. Toward the Sun Rising also includes 110 photographs and a number of other illustrations, mostly given to the author by Ursula Vaughan Williams. Some of these have not been published before. Available from Albion Music Ltd, the price is £30.00 plus £5.00 postage and packing.
Updated 14 April 2018
A London Symphony (1925 acoustic recording)
This is the symphony’s first recording, by Sir Dan Godfrey and the LSO, made in 1925 using the acoustic process. This interesting video aims to show some of the very human origins of A London Symphony, centred around George Butterworth, who seems to have been a catalyst for many different musical events in the early years of the last century, not least of which was this symphony.
Updated 14 April 2018
The Vaughan Williams Society Exhibition at Leith Hill Place
The new Ralph Vaughan Williams Society exhibition is now open. Check opening times with Leith Hill Place.
Updated 30 March 2018
The Passions of Vaughan Williams
A film by John Bridcut
In this musical and psychological portrait of Ralph Vaughan Williams, John Bridcut reveals the passions that drove the giant of 20th century English music. He explores the enormous musical range of an energetic, red-blooded composer whose output extends well beyond the delicate pastoralism of one of his most famous pieces, The Lark Ascending. This feature-length documentary tells the story of his fifty-year marriage to his increasingly disabled wife Adeline, and his long affair with the woman who eventually became his second wife, Ursula. The effect of these complicated relationships on Vaughan Williams’s music is demonstrated in specially-filmed performances of his orchestral and choral works. Among the contributors is Ursula Vaughan Williams herself, who was interviewed shortly before her death at the age of 96. Other contributors to the film include Michael Kennedy, Anthony Payne, Christopher Finzi, Simona Pakenham, Hugh Cobbe, Robert Tear, Miles Vaughan Williams, Nicola LeFanu, Byron Adams and Jeremy Dale Roberts. Click to preorder/order.
Updated 01 March 2018
Surrey Performing Arts Library – update and how to support a solution
Many of our members will know the Surrey Performing Arts Library, situated at Denbies, in Dorking. A number of our AGMs have been held there. It is a superb resource, containing thousands of books, documents, manuscripts, CDs, videos and sheet music. More importantly, it holds a comprehensive archive of Vaughan Williams material which has been zealously put together by Society member and former chief librarian, Graham Muncy. The archive contains books, magazines, photographs, vinyls and CDs, as well as some genuine ephemera donated by local citizens and the composer’s wife, Ursula. The collection also includes material that was used over the last hundred years at the Leith Hill Musical Festival of which VW was the conductor. Now, with the recent cut backs and Surrey County Council’s financial woes, the library is facing closure. More worrying is the possibility that the Vaughan Williams Collection will be dispersed. A number of options have been put forward but time is running short. Please click on the link below to read the options and to lend your support. Click this link to visit the website
Updated 23 February 2018
Vaughan Williams bibliography updated to include 2017
A Publications of Music B Collections of RVW’s Writings C Bibliographical/Discographical D Correspondence E Iconography F Biography/Life-and-Works Surveys G Collections of Essays H Analysis/Criticism of Individual Works and Genres:
(a) folk song (b) hymnody (c) opera and other stage works (d) choral works (e) songs (f) symphonies (g) concertos (h) other orchestral music (i) band music (j) film music (k) chamber music, solo piano, and organ
If you have any queries please contact me in the first instance at firstname.lastname@example.org
Updated 07 February 2018
Vaughan Williams’s letters
If you are familiar with Hugh Cobbe’s Letters of Ralph Vaughan Williams 1895–1958, you will understand the gargantuan nature of the task. If in doubt, examine the handwriting (not his worst!) in VW’s letter to Holst below and you will appreciate the scale of the achievement. Now, all RVW’s extant correspondence is being published on-line. The work goes far beyond the published book – a lot of the work was done before the publication so that there were 3,288 letters to select from for the publication. However, quite a few letters have come to light since then so that the current total is 4,358. The editors of the project are now Katharine Hogg and Colin Coleman. Hugh Cobbe OBE is formerly Head of Music Collections at the British Library and editor of Letters of Ralph Vaughan Williams 1895–1958 and Chairman of the RVW Trust, of the National Folk Music Fund, a former chairman of the Gerald Coke Handel Foundation, and a Past President of the Royal Musical Association. Visit the website: http://vaughanwilliams.uk/letters-table
Updated 22 December 2017
Beyond My Dream: Music for Greek Plays
“Music of undeniable beauty.” The Globe, 25 May 1912 In 1911, Ralph Vaughan Williams wrote music for three plays by Euripides – The Bacchae, Electra and Iphigenia in Tauris – then newly translated into English verse. Isadora Duncan had danced for the composer and asked him to write music for her to dance to within The Bacchae, and he also worked with the translator, Gilbert Murray. A planned production of Iphigenia in Tauris did not come off, but there was a public performance of the music alone in May 1912. It was described at the time as being music of ‘undeniable beauty’ and Gilbert Murray wrote that the music was set ‘in my judgement extraordinarily well’. The mezzo soprano soloist, Heather Lowe in her recording debut, sometimes sings and sometimes recites the words of the choruses, accompanied by female voices (and additional soloists) from Joyful Company of Singers and by Britten Sinfonia conducted by Alan Tongue. Alan Tongue transcribed the music from parts and scores in the British Library, realising some of it from short score. Albion Records is proud to present more than an hour of unknown but lovely music, from the early maturity of Vaughan Williams, now recorded for the first time. Order Now. Shipping from 18 November 2017.
Updated 14 November 2017
Vaughan Williams in Norfolk Vol 2 CD-ROM
Digital book with embedded MIDI files, by Alan Helsdon This is Volume 2 of the Vaughan Williams in Norfolk CD-ROM (MTCD253), that was published in 2014. It covers the three Norfolk collecting trips Ralph Vaughan Williams made in April 1908, October 1910 and December 1911. He met some 22 singers and collected 93 songs from them. As before, they are presented in staff notation, with full texts, and with link to MIDI sound files of the tunes, and there’s a very substantial page of information on the singers. MTCD254 £12.00 Visit: http://www.mtrecords.co.uk/mt_rec.htm
Updated 28 January 2018
List of Song Titles
01 Barley Mow 02 Barley Straw 03 Basket of Eggs 04 Bold Fisherman 05 Bold Princess Royal a – Barlow 06 Bonny Blue Handkerchief 07 Bonny Bunch of Roses – O 08 Bonny Robin 09 Butcher Boy 10 Captain’s Apprentice 11 Cold Irons 12 Crafty Ploughboy 13 Cruel Ship’s Carpenter 14 Dark Eyed Sailor 15 Died for Love a Barlow 16 Died for Love b Debbage 17 Dogger Bank 18 Faithful Sailor Boy 19 Flower of London 20 Foggy Dew 21 Frog and Mouse 22 General Wolfe 23 Georgie 24 Grand Conversation of Napoleon 25 Green Mossy Banks 26 Hares in the Plantation 27 Harvest Song 28 Hearts of Oak 29 Holly Twig 30 Horse Race Song 31 I’ll Go and Enlist for a Sailor 32 Irish Girl 33 Isle of France 34 Jew Pedlar 35 Jockey to the Fair 36 John Barleycorn 37 John Reilly a Jay 38 John Reilly b Stevenson 39 John Reilly c Unknown 40 Jolly Waggoner 41 Just as the Tide was Turning a Gorble 42 Just as the Tide was Turning b Locke 1908 43 Just as the Tide was Turning c Locke 1910 44 Key of my Heart 45 Lad in the Scotch Brigade 46 Lady and Sailor 47 Lancashire Farmer 48 Liverpool Landlady 49 Liverpool Play 50 Lovely Joan 51 Lovely on the Water 52 Man of Birmingham Town a Locke 1908 53 Man of Birmingham Town b Locke 1910 54 Manchester Angel 55 Maria Marten 56 Miller and Three Sons 57 Molecatcher a Hilton 58 Molecatcher b Jay 59 Molecatcher c Tooke 60 Monday Morning 61 Nancy 62 New Garden Fields 63 Old King Cole a unknown singer 64 Old King Cole b Tufts Jnr 65 Outlandish Knight 66 Paddy Magee’s Dream 67 Peggy Band 68 Phoebe 69 Plymouth Sound 70 Polly Oliver 71 Pretty Nancy 72 Ratcatcher’s Daughter 73 Roger the Miller 74 Rose of Britain’s Isle 75 Scarborough Town 76 Sewing Machine 77 Shannon Side 78 Smuggler’s Boy 79 Spurn Point 80 Sweet Primroses 81 Tarry Sailor 82 Team Boy 83 Trotting Horse a Tufts 84 Trotting Horse b Woodcock 85 Turkish Lady 86 Unknown Song 87 Unknown tune with the words of Swaffham Pedlar 88 Ward the Pirate 89 Wealthy Farmer’s Son 90 When Joan’s Ale was New a Hilton 91 When Jones’s Ale was New b Saunders 92 Wooden Legged Parson 93 Young Johnson
MISTRESS AND MUSE: Ursula – The second Mrs Vaughan Williams
A Biography by Janet Tennant This is the first biography of Ursula Vaughan Williams (1911 – 2007), a distinguished poet, novelist and librettist and second wife of the internationally-acclaimed composer Ralph Vaughan Williams. Drawing on narratives and important insights from a fascinating collection of papers, diaries, letters and photographs that until now have been in Ursula’s family, Janet Tennant presents Ursula’s story – a journey which covers her background and early years in a peripatetic army family through to her becoming Ralph Vaughan Williams’s muse, lover and, ultimately, his inspirational second wife. 393 pages including index and 45 b/w illustrations Visit the Albion Records website: albionmusic.com/mistress-and-muse/
Updated 11 September 2017
I Love My Love
A Folk Song Collection Arranged by Ralph Vaughan Williams, Cecil Sharp, Lucy Broadwood, Percy Grainger, Gustav Holst, Ethel Smyth and others The English Singers, Glasgow Orpheus Choir, Fleet Street Choir, onchita Supervia, Steuart Wilson, Frederick Ranalow, Leon Goossens, Adrian Boult, Malcolm Sargent, Hugh Roberton.
Updated 9 August 2017
Conservation of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ original working copy of Bach’s St Matthew Passion score
A Talk by Conservator Victoria Stevens who will give a presentation on the recent restoration of the score, which was used by Vaughan Williams at the Leith Hill Musical Festival. The score will be on view in a specially commissioned display case.
Tuesday 19th September 2017 at Dorking Halls, Surrey 10:30 and to 12.30 pm The talk is free to Friends and Patrons of the Festival, £7.50 to others (including tea/coffee). To reserve a place: please email: email@example.com or phone: Mandy Begg 07775 745689 For more information visit: http://www.lhmf.org.uk/events-and-tickets/st-matthew-talk/
Updated 25 July 2017
Photo © Leith Hill Musical Festival
‘Discoveries’ nominated for Grammy
Our recent CD Discoveries (Three Nocturnes, A Road all Paved with Stars, Stricken Peninsula and Four Last Songs) has been nominated for ‘Best Classical Compendium’ in the forthcoming round of Grammy Awards. This is really thrilling news, and all the people who were involved in the long process of conceiving, recording and finally releasing Discoveries are to be warmly congratulated.
This is not the first time an Albion recording has been nominated: our very successful recording The Solent (Andrew Kennedy, Roland Wood, Paul Daniel and the RLPO) was nominated in the same category a couple of years ago. It didn’t win, but we were pleased (as we are once again) to be nominated. Here is the full list of nominees in that category (and I would describe at least some of the competition as pretty stiff – we are in seriously good company): “Daugherty: Tales of Hemingway; American Gothic; Once Upon A Castle” — Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor; Tim Handley, producer “Gesualdo” — Tõnu Kaljuste, conductor; Manfred Eicher, producer “Vaughan Williams: Discoveries” — Martyn Brabbins, conductor; [Andrew Walton, producer]“Wolfgang: Passing Through” — Judith Farmer & Gernot Wolfgang, producers; (Various Artists) “Zappa: 200 Motels – The Suites” — Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor; Frank Filipetti & Gail Zappa, producers
Updated 7 December 2016
Snazzy stylus pens!
We are pleased to offer our new Stylus pens for sale. These smart pens are available in grey, black, blue or green covers; all have black ink biro, and come in a neat presentation box. They are printed with THE RALPH VAUGHAN WILLIAMS SOCIETY and our web-site address. The pens can be used as an ordinary biro or as a stylus for use on touch screens (smartphones, iPads and other tablets) – an excellent way to stop greasy finger prints on your screen! With Christmas just a few weeks away, these pens will make a lovely Christmas gift or stocking filler. They are reasonably priced at £2.50 each. Packing & postage within the UK is £1 for up to 5 pens. For destinations outside the UK it goes up to £3.50 – again, for anything up to 5 pens. Please let us know what colour cover you prefer and we’ll do our best, though some colours are selling very quickly!
Don’t forget our AGM is on 2 October at Denbies, Dorking – our Stylus pens and CDs will be on sale there.
Updated 14 September 2016
A Road all Paved with Stars
(Study score arranged by Adrian Williams) Jointly commissioned by The Vaughan Williams Charitable Trust and Oxford University Press, A Road All Paved with Stars is a single-movement orchestral work incorporating the finest music of Vaughan Williams’s opera The Poisoned Kiss. Using material from the most memorable songs and sections, including Blue larkspur in a garden, Love breaks all rules, and of course the ‘Kiss’ climax and its aftermath, Adrian Williams has created an orchestral synthesis befitting the composer’s own musical vision. Orchestration: 2fl(II+picc), 2ob, 2cl, 2bn, 4hn, 2tpt, 2tbn, tba, timp, 3perc, hp, str RRP £12.95 (20% discount for RVW Society members) Contact Mark Caddick: Tel: +44 (0)1865 355052 Mobile: +44 (0)7850 289551 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.oup.com/uk/music
Updated 28 July 2016
Vaughan Williams’s piano
Thanks to a private donor, visitors can now see Vaughan Williams’s piano on display at Leith Hill Place, which he gave to the National Trust in 1945. For details of concerts and opening times at Leith Hill Place please click on this link.
Added: 04 March 2016