News and Information

New from Albion Records  –

Forgotten Recordings of the 50s

This compilation from Albion records brings a number of première recordings of works by Ralph Vaughan Williams from the LP era to a digital format for the first time.

Click for track list and more information 

Updated 23 June 2021

CD cover

Annual General Meeting 2021

Sunday 17 October 2021 at 14.00 UK time

The Society’s Annual General Meeting, will be held in the Music Department’s Llewellyn Room at Charterhouse School, Godalming, Surrey, on Sunday, 17 October 2021.

Please use the Prince’s Avenue entrance, postcode GU7 2DE, if arriving by car. The meeting will be followed by a recital by the Vaughan Williams Singers.

Charterhouse was Vaughan Williams’s school from 1887-1890, though the Llewellyn Room is a lot more recent than that.

We are somewhat more confident that we can meet in person than we were last year. Even so, please check this page before setting out for Godalming! You will find details of the programme to be sung by the Vaughan Williams Singers on the attached pdf. We shall be sending out an email update, and intend to ‘live stream’ the event again if possible.

If coming by car, please use the Prince’s Avenue entrance. If you have a satnav, the postcode GU7 2DE should get you there. Then follow signs to the Llewellyn Room. There will be a few parking spaces there for those with mobility problems, but the main car park is a short walk away beyond the chapel. Attendees are requested to keep off the grass. 

Godalming Station is on the London Waterloo to Portsmouth Harbour line. There are taxis available outside the station. At the time of writing, rail services are restricted, so check what is running before you set off. 

We look forward to seeing you!


pdf_icon AGM Papers 2021


Vaughan Williams and Holst in Gloucester
A Concert of Part Songs
Saturday 11 September 2021 at 1.15pm

This was originally to be a double programme arranged for Saturday 26 June, which had to be postponed due to Covid.

We are now having just the one concert at 1.15pm on Saturday 11th September. Venue will be the Chapter House which adjoins Gloucester Cathedral.
The programme will be as follows:-

Gustav Holst Part Songs
The Stars are with the Voyager
Spring, it is Cheery
O Lady, Leave thy Silken Thread
Come away, Death
Now Rest Thee from all Care
Diverus and Lazarus
In Youth is Pleasure
It was a Lover and his Lass
Gustav Holst Part Songs
Playground Song
O England my Country

Ralph Vaughan Williams partsongs/ choral work

Three English Folk Songs

Just as the Tide was Flowing
The Turtle Dove

Five Mystical Songs

CONDUCTOR– Adrian Partington, director of music at Gloucester Cathedral.
SINGERS – Gloucester Cathedral Singers – a professional group.

Tickets – £20 per person per concert. You must book a ticket in advance as numbers are limited.

Contact: Chris Cope Tel: 01769 580041. Email – chairman@holstsociety.org

The concert should finish at 2.45pm. The Cathedral Music Trust’s ‘Gloucester Gathering’ begins at 2.30 and will probably overlap very slightly, but it is possible to do both. Choral Evensong, in the Cathedral at 4.30pm, will be an all-English programme including Stanford’s ‘Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in D’, a Psalm Chant by Herbert Howells, the hymn ‘Hills of the North Rejoice’ by Martin Shaw, the anthem ‘Song of the Tree of Life’ by Vaughan Williams and the concluding organ voluntary will be Parry’s ‘Fantasia and Fugue in G’.

Updated 18 August 2021

The Edge of Beyond – Ralph Vaughan Williams in the First World War

The Edge of Beyond – Ralph Vaughan Williams in the First World War is the first book to cover in detail Ralph Vaughan Williams’s experiences in the First World War. The book includes original research on the composer’s period of service in the British Army between 31 December 1914 and his final demobilisation on 15 July 1919. There is also a pivotal chapter, called ‘With rue my heart is laden’, that explores the impact of the war on Vaughan Williams’s music, focusing on the Pastoral Symphony, Sancta Civitas and Riders to the Sea. Stephen Connock refers to these three inspired works as the composer’s ‘Great War Trilogy’.

For more information visit the Albion Music website

Updated 23 March 2021

Book jacket

Joyce Kennedy


It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our Vice-President, Joyce Kennedy (1 July 2021).

Together with her husband, Vaughan Williams biographer and music critic Michael Kennedy, Joyce was a huge friend and advisor to the Society. She will be deeply missed.

Updated 2 July 2021


Joyce seen here with Michael Kennedy at a Society event held at the 3 Choirs Festival, Gloucester.

New from Albion Records  – FOLK SONGS 2

This is the second in a series of four albums recording all 80 of the folk songs in English that Ralph Vaughan Williams arranged for voice and piano or violin. 57 of the 80 songs have not previously been recorded in these arrangements.

Click for track list and more information 

Updated 16 February 2021

CD front cover

David Briggs

Symphony No 5 – Online at the Cathedral of St John Divine, New York

The Ralph Vaughan William Society has commissioned on organ transcription of Vaughan Williams’s 5th Symphony from David Briggs. The plan was to record it in Truro Cathedral at the end of this month, but travel restrictions currently imprison David in New York where he is Artist in Residence at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

Our own recording in Truro is now deferred to next August, and Thomas Gould will be playing the violin.

Instead, David is giving an online performance of the transcription from the empty cathedral, and you can buy a ticket for the event for only $10.

The concert will take place on 13th October, at 7 pm (UK time), with a pre-concert interview with Kent Tritle, the cathedral’s Music Director, at 6 pm.  The link will continue to work for 48 hours which gives you time to catch up.

The concert includes three works:

Overture to The Wasps (as recorded on our earlier double album)
The Lark Ascending (with Cyrus Beroukhim, violin)
Symphony Number 5

Click here to purchase a ticket>>.

Updated 12 October 2020

Evolution of Sound talks series: Ralph’s Rustic Revolution

Thursday 3 Sept, 2020, 2pm 

Leith Hill Place

Vaughan Williams collected over 800 folk songs from so-called ‘ordinary people’ around Britain in the years before the Great War. His encounters with this vanishing musical resource utterly revolutionised his work as a composer…and his thinking about what a British ‘national music’ should sound like. But what of criticisms that this was all backward-looking rustic romanticism? Music includes the famous Bushes and Briars, the Norfolk Rhapsodies, the opera Hugh the Drover and Five Variants on Dives and Lazarus.

Click for more information and tickets.

(Details may be subject to change)


The Future

(World Premiere)

A visionary masterpiece for chorus and orchestra that’s never been heard before

Special rates are available for Society members.
Contact the Publicity Officer for more details

Conductor, Martin Yates, and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra are to give the World Premiere performances of a major lost work by Ralph Vaughan Williams. The Future is a large-scale visionary masterpiece for soprano, large chorus and orchestra. Two performances are to take place in Glasgow and Edinburgh on 8th and 9th November 2019.

Martin Yates, who is no stranger to Vaughan Williams or to completing the composer’s unfinished works, said “RVW was working on The Future during 1908, between writing Toward the Unknown Region (1906/7) and probably alongside A Sea Symphony which premiered in 1909, and I feel the work very much relates to the profound consciousness of both.”

With its themes of time, space and sea, which were to continue to inspire Vaughan Williams’s works, Matthew Arnold’s portentous poem The Future forewarns of the erosion of the natural world, from a Victorian perspective, as traditional ways become overwhelmed by industrialisation and the growth of civilisation.

“RVW edited the text to suit what he was doing”, explained Martin Yates. “The work was left unfinished in short score with a few instrumental cues, and literally runs out about two thirds of the way through. I have completed and scored it and it has a playing time of 35 minutes. I have no idea why RVW left it incomplete because the music he has written is absolutely first class!”

For the World Premiere performances of The Future, Martin Yates will conduct the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Chorus, with whom he regularly performs and records, and soprano soloist, Ilona Domnich, who has previously featured in his performances of works by Vaughan Williams and Holst. Edinburgh and Glasgow will each host a performance as part of a programme which pairs two popular Vaughan Williams favourites: The Wasps Overture and The Lark Ascending, with soloist Sharon Roffman; Ravel’s Pavane pour un infante défunte and the 1945 version of Stravinsky’s The Firebird Suite.

The concerts are being supported by the Vaughan Williams Charitable Trust: the body set up to promote knowledge and performance of the composer’s works.

Updated 23 October 2019

Matthew Arnold

Friday 8th November 2019 
The Future
(World Premiere)

Usher Hall
Lothian Road, Edinburgh EH1 2EA

Also: The Wasps’ Overture
The Lark Ascending
Ravel: Pavane pour une infante défunte
Stravinsky: The Firebird Suite (1945 version)
Martin Yates (conductor)
Sharon Roffman (violin)
Ilona Domnich (soprano)
Royal Scottish National Orchestra
RSNO Chorus
Click to Book or read more

Saturday 9th November 2019 
The Future

Royal Concert Hall
2 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow G2 3NY

Also: The Wasps’ Overture
The Lark Ascending
Ravel: Pavane pour une infante défunte
Stravinsky: The Firebird Suite (1945 version)
Martin Yates (conductor)
Sharon Roffman (violin)
Ilona Domnich (soprano)
Royal Scottish National Orchestra
RSNO Chorus
Click to Book or read more

Chapel Choir of the Royal Hospital Chelsea

Earth & Sky: the choral music of Ralph Vaughan Williams

Wren Chapel,
Royal Hospital,
Chelsea, SW3 4SR
Wednesday 6 November 2019, 19:00

Prices from £15.00 to £30.00
All tickets include a glass of wine in the interval (18 years +)

This performance, in the beautiful setting of the Royal Hospital’s Wren Chapel, promises to be unmissable.


Mass in G minor
O Clap your Hands
Te Deum in G Major
England, My England
A Call to the Free Nations
The Airmen’s Hymn
A Hymn of Freedom
The Old 100th
O Taste and See
O Praise the Lord of Heaven
Valiant for Truth
The New Commonwealth
Three Gaelic Songs
Antiphon (Let all the World in Every Corner Sing)


Chapel Choir of the Royal Hospital Chelsea
Benjamin Newlove
William Vann conductor

Updated 18 July 2019


Annual General Meeting

Sunday 13 October 2019

St Stephen’s Church, London

Members are invited to the Society’s Annual General Meeting, which will be held in St. Stephen’s Church, Gloucester Road, London SW7 4RL on Sunday, 13 October 2019. Please note the slightly earlier starting time of 2.30 p.m. this year. The meeting will be followed by a recital by Kitty Whately (mezzo soprano) and William Vann (piano) – two of the artists featured on Albion’s recording The Song of Love which will be released in September.
We look forward to seeing you there.

How to get to St Stephen’s Church
St. Stephen’s Church is served by Gloucester Road Tube Station (Piccadilly, District and Circle lines), and bus route numbers 74 and 49. It stands at the junction of Gloucester Road and Southwell Gardens; the entrance is in Southwell Gardens at the West end of the church. Street parking is feasible on a Sunday.

Order of Events

14.00 Tea/Coffee
14.30 Annual General Meeting:

  • Welcome by the Chairman
  • Apologies for absence
  • 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 2018-2019
  • Election or re-election of trustees and Independent Examiner
  • Any other business
  • 15.30 Recital by Kitty Whately and William Vann
  • 16.30 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: rvwinformation@hotmail.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.

The Vaughan Williams Society Song Prize

The Vaughan Williams Society Song Prize for the Best Interpretation of Songs in English by a British Composer held at the Wigmore International Song Competition was awarded to Clara Osowski from Minnesota.
You can watch the semi-final from the competition by clicking on the photograph.

Clara Osowski

Clara Osowski receives the Ralph Vaughan Williams Society Award for The Best Interpretation of Songs in English by a British Composer from Ralph Vaughan Williams Society Chairman, Simon Coombs.

Updated 23 September 2019

New recordings from our Albion label

Click on images to discover more

Updated 08 August 2019

Viola Fantasia

Now available to pre-order

Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) learned the piano and violin from an early age, but took to the viola while still at school and continued to play it all his life; this instrument is associated with his most romantic and impassioned music. His contemporary, the great viola virtuoso Lionel Tertis, was the inspiration for two of the works presented here. The Cello and Piano arrangement of the Fantasia on Sussex Folk Tunes has been transcribed for Viola and Piano by Martin Outram, and this is its première recording.

Track list:

Suite for viola and piano
Romance for viola and piano
Six Studies in English Folk Song
Fantasia on Greensleeves
Fantasia on Sussex Folk Tunes
Four Hymns for Tenor, Viola and Piano

Martin Outram ~ viola
Julian Rolton ~ piano
Mark Padmore ~ tenor

Updated 13 April 2019

Viola Fantasia


Ralph Vaughan Williams: The Charterhouse Years


Wednesday July 17th. 2pm

Writer and broadcaster Andrew Green tells the story of Ralph Vaughan Williams’s years at Charterhouse School, 15 miles from his childhood home of Leith Hill Place.

The second of three talks by Andrew Green linking Vaughan Williams with views around the Surrey Hills.

On a clear day, the English Channel can just be seen from the summit of Leith Hill, familiar territory for the young Vaughan Williams. He spent his prep school years overlooking the sea, at Rottingdean near Brighton, and enjoyed holidays on the south coast. How far might the dazzling grandstand view of a major international shipping lane have nurtured his interest in setting Walt Whitman’s evocative poetry to create his Sea Symphony?

Tickets including cream tea: £18.00.

To book in advance
Telephone: 0344 249 1895 or email: leithhillplace@nationaltrust.org.uk. 

Also see www.nationaltrust.org.uk/leith-hill-place/whats-on

Leith Hill Place, Leith Hill Lane, Dorking RH5 6LY. Car park off the main road, above the house. 

Updated 20 June 2019

Viola Fantasia


Ralph Vaughan Williams’s A London Symphony: Dazzle Meets Desperation?


Saturday 31st August. 6pm

At Vaughan Williams’s childhood home, writer and broadcaster Andrew Green explores the background to one of the great musical depictions of London.

The last of three talks by Andrew Green linking Vaughan Williams with views around the Surrey Hills.

Tickets (including glass of wine or Pimms): £15.00.

To book in advance
Telephone: 0344 249 1895 or email: leithhillplace@nationaltrust.org.uk. 

Also see www.nationaltrust.org.uk/leith-hill-place/whats-on

Leith Hill Place, Leith Hill Lane, Dorking RH5 6LY. Car park off the main road, above the house. 

Updated 20 June 2019

Viola Fantasia


The Ralph Vaughan Williams Society Annual General Meeting 2018

The AGM was held at Denbies, Dorking, on Sunday 14th October 2018. Formal notice of the meeting can be downloaded from below, as well as the Annual Report and Accounts.

Chairman Simon Coombs was unavoidably absent, as he was caring for his wife, Laura. Laura’s death on 26 October is reported in a News item below.

Vice-Chairman John Francis took the chair and – with a view to making this, our first AGM video, more interesting – asked a number of the officers and trustees of the Society to talk about their areas of work and current topics. Inevitably we did not manage technical perfection this first time. We used one camera for Section one which did not focus well, but we changed camera thereafter and achieved better results! This is an opportunity for all Society members to put faces to names and to learn something of what we all do.

We got off to a false start – which accounts for the laughter as John attempts to introduce the meeting in a dignified manner for the second time around. The whole meeting is divided into four sections, so you need to click on them in succession in order to witness the entire event. Here is an outline of what happened in each:

SECTION 1 (a bit blurred, 18’03”)
Click here for You Tube link
Introduction from John Francis, Vice Chairman and Treasurer
Leith Hill Place – Dr. Christopher Batt, trustee
Surrey Performing Arts Library – Graham Aslet, trustee

SECTION 2 (13’35”)
Click here for You Tube link
Concerts – John Treadway, Concert Resources Officer
The Journal – Martin Murray, Hon. Secretary
Newsletter and events – Karen Fletcher, Publicity and Events Officer

SECTION 3 (9’30”)
Click here for You Tube link
AGM planning – Roy Bexon, Trustee
Comprehensive Discography – Jonathan Pearson, Trustee
Selective Discography – John Francis
Albion Records Report – John Francis as Chairman of Albion Records

SECTION 4 (13’42”)
Click here for You Tube link
Recent recordings;
The Ralph Vaughan Williams Society English Song Prize
(to be given at The Wigmore International Song Competition)
– William Vann, Trustee
Membership – Mark Hammett, Membership Officer
The Accounts – John Francis
Formal business of the AGM: adoption of the accounts; election of trustees;
reappointment of the Independent Examiner; final questions.

We are grateful to Derek Butler (https://derekbutler.tv) for post production work in the videos.

Feel free to let John have your comments by emailing him at: johnfrancis@albionrvw.co.uk

pdf_icon AGM Papers 2018

pdf_icon Trustees’ Report 2018


Laura Coombs

It is with regret and sadness that we report the death of Mrs Laura Coombs on 26th October 2018, from cancer.

Laura was married to the Society’s Chairman, Simon Coombs, but was also a trustee of the Society – recently working on ‘merchandise’; she leaves behind a number of ideas yet to be fulfilled. She has played an active part in the Society’s meetings and events for many years, and will be much missed by all who knew her.

A full appreciation will follow in the February 2019 edition of the Society Journal.

To send Simon a message, follow this link.

 26 October 2018

Laura Coombs

Annual General Meeting

Sunday 14 October 2018

Denbies, Dorking

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.
Postcode for Sat Nav: RH5 6AA
We look forward to seeing you there.

Order of Events

14.30 Tea/Coffee
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: rvwinformation@hotmail.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 8 September 2018


Produced by Jonathan Pearson

Ralph Vaughan Williams Society member, Jonathan Pearson has updated his Vaughan Williams discography. This is a work in progress, a labour of love and the culmination of many years work. Jonathan invites interested parties to comment. It is free to use. The only thing that we ask is that should you use it, please credit Jonathan and the Ralph Vaughan Williams Society and to please let Jonathan know by sending an e-mail to: rvwinformation@hotmail.com The Discography is available in two formats. Click below for preferred format.



Updated 9 September 2018

The Greater Light’
A Compendium of the Life and Works of Martin Shaw

Stephen Connock and Isobel Montgomery Campbell (Editors)

The Greater Light – A Compendium of the Life and Works of Martin Shaw, edited by Stephen Connock and Isobel Montgomery Campbell, brings back into circulation a number of important works by or about Martin Shaw that have long been unavailable but which reveal much about his life, his work and his ideas. The central contribution here is Shaw’s autobiography Up to Now, a delightfully light-hearted and understated journey through the early years of his life, working with Isadora Duncan, Edward Gordon Craig, John Masefield, John Ireland, Ralph Vaughan Williams and others.

PAGES 442 pages including over 30 photographs
COLOUR Black and white
HARDBACK with dust jacket
ISBN 978-0-9956284-2-7
PRICE £30.00 plus P&P

To purchase visit: https://albionmusic.com/martin-shaw-the-greater-light/

Updated 8 September 2018


Ralph Vaughan Williams

On the composer’s birthday and 60 years after his death
Celebratory Vocal and Choral Concert

Launching two new recordings from Albion Records:

Earth and Sky: choral premières
A Vaughan Williams Christmas

Friday, 12 October 2018 at 7.00 pm.
St. Stephen’s Church, Gloucester Road
London, SW7 4RL
(Gloucester Road Station, Buses 74 and 49).

Chapel Choir of the Royal Hospital Chelsea
William Vann ~ Director
Gareth Brynmor John ~ Baritone

Works to include:
Five Mystical Songs
Valiant for Truth
And many more songs and arrangements by Vaughan Williams

All seats unreserved: £20 including a glass of wine or soft drink at the interval.

Updated 14 August 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.

Booking: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/events/fcdc3df8-a797-4724-8bdc-6326b07eb3d9/pages/details

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.online/ 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.

All donations from UK taxpayers qualify for Gift Aid, thus adding 25% to the value of your gift. We will request a Gift Aid declaration by email from donors.

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Updated 4 July 2018

John Sykes

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

Stephen Connock

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’s spectacles and music with his own personal notations

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 rvwinformation@hotmail.com

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: secretary@lhmf.org.uk 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

Grammy Nominee 2017

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. 


Preferred Colour


Preferred Colour

Updated 14 September 2016

Smart looking dual function pen with stylus.
Stylus comes with a presentation box.

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: mark.caddick@oup.com http://www.oup.com/uk/music 

Updated 28 July 2016

A Road All Paved with Stars Study Score

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