News and Information

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 These were taken mainly from published books, magazine articles and broadcasts (UK and USA) and also from unpublished sources in the Vaughan Williams Collection at the British Library in London.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 Alongside the ‘Memories’, other material has been added, mainly from unpublished sources in the British Library and from Stephen Connock’s collection of the letters of Ursula Vaughan Williams which she gave him for use in this book.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 book will be published on May 14, 2018.
The price is £30.00 plus £5.00 postage and packing.


Updated 14 April 2018


Toward the Unknown Region

Interested in taking part?
There are unlimited singing and string places; please ask about other places.
Students and all members of the ‘dust off’ brigade are welcome.
10.00am for 10.30 start for players; 11.30am for noon start for singers.
End at approx. 7.00pm

Free Open Rehearsal for all: 5.30pm

MAY 27 (Sunday)
 Henry Wood Hall, Trinity Church Square, London SE1 4HUk

Also: Elgar The Music Makers

Elgar Overture In the South

Ireland These things shall be

Diana Bickley conductor

To indicate your interest and be sent further details, please email: dianabickley@aol.com

Generously supported by: The Vaughan WIlliams Charitable Trust, The Elgar Society and the John Ireland Charitable Trust.

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

Ralph Vaughan Williams Anniversary Talks at Leith Hill Place

To mark 60 years since the death of Vaughan Williams, a series of three talks will be given by writer, broadcaster and oral historian, Andrew Green, at the composer’s bewitching childhood home.

A Surrey Upbringing

Andrew Green uses the unique views seen from Leith Hill as the starting point for a re-creation of the pastoral landscapes and rural life that Vaughan Williams knew as he grew to adulthood. The countryside bewitched but also gave rise for deep concern as severe agricultural depression took hold in the 1870s and retained its grip for decades.
For booking details click on link.


For the Love of Words: Vaughan Williams and Literature

Andrew Green introduces and (with his poet/musician sister, Rosie Green) reads a selection of poetry and prose set to music by Vaughan Williams, looking to rediscover and explain the excitement which the words – on a range of subjects – stimulated in him. Featured: works by Robert Louis Stevenson, A E Housman, Christina Rossetti, Ursula Vaughan Williams, Matthew Arnold, The Book of Revelation.
For booking details click on link.

Updated 4 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

Concert – A Celebration of Peace

In commemoration of the end of WW1

Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis
Dona Nobis Pacem
Five Variants of Dives and Lazarus
Sancta Civitas

Featuring: A chorus of 300 voices from across the United States of America
With East Anglia Chamber Orchestra

Conductors: Stephen Cleobury (UK) and Craig Jessop (USA)
Tickets – Premium £15 includes interval glass of wine, Non-reserved £10, Concessions £8
Click for website
Box office: 01353 660349
email: boxoffice@elycathedral

Updated 10 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 rvwinformation@hotmail.com

Updated 07 February 2018

Ralph Vaughan Williams and the Church

Keynote speaker: Professor Jeremy Dibble, Durham University

The organising committee for Ralph Vaughan Williams and the Church and the Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies invite proposals for this RMA Study Day to be held at Durham University on the 4 June 2018. Researchers are invited to submit proposals engaging with perspectives on the relationship between Ralph Vaughan Williams and the church. PhD students are especially welcome to submit presentations.

For more information see the attached pdf.

Updated 30 January 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

Annual General Meeting, Sunday 8 October 2017

Guildhall School of Music & Drama,
Silk Street, Barbican,

14:30 Tea/Coffee
15:00 Annual General Meeting

  1. Welcome by the Chairman
  2. Chairman’s Annual Report
  3. Membership Officer’s Report
  4. Treasurer’s Report
  5. Adoption of the Annual Report and Accounts of The Ralph Vaughan Williams Society for 2016-2017
  6. Election and re-election of trustees and Independent Examiner
  7. Any other business

16:00 Recital by Gareth Brynmor John (Baritone) with William Vann (piano).
17:00 A glass of wine

For complete Order of Events please see attached pdf.

Updated 26 September 2017


William Vann (piano)


Gareth Brynmor John (Baritone)

Anthony Goldstone 1944 – 2017

We are sorry to announce the death of Anthony Goldstone on the morning of 2 January 2017.

Anthony (“Tony”) Goldstone was born in Liverpool and studied music at the Royal Manchester College of Music of which he became a fellow.  He had an international career as both a solo and duet pianist. He has appeared on more than 70 CDs, many of them with his wife, Caroline Clemmow; they were known professionally as “Goldstone and Clemmow”.

Tony approached Albion Records in 2016 with a proposal to record a number of RVW works including Michael Mullinar’s (and RVW’s) piano duet arrangement of the Fifth Symphony. The project proceeded rapidly, and we released “Music for two Pianos” in time for Christmas. Cancer was diagnosed soon afterwards, and its rapid progress meant that plans for further recordings could not be fulfilled.

A week before his death, Tony wrote: “You will be pleased to know that I play our CD virtually every evening after I’ve hit the sheets, partly because the music is so beautiful, partly because I can hardly believe that we did it!”

Tony died at home, peacefully on the morning of 2 January.  His wife, Caroline, was with him.

Updated 13 March 2017

“Tony” Goldstone with his wife, Caroline Clemmow

“Tony” Goldstone with his wife, Caroline Clemmow.

‘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


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