Celebrating the 150th Birthday of
Ralph Vaughan Williams in 2022
In 2022 we celebrate the 150th Birthday of Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872 – 1958). A commemoration of international significance for performances, recordings and associated events and the last major anniversary before RVW goes out of copyright.
The most recent commemoration, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the composer’s death in 2008, saw a major reappraisal of this giant of twentieth-century music, with two contrasting new documentary films – John Bridcut’s The Passions of Vaughan Williams and Tony Palmer’s O Thou Transcendent: The Life of Vaughan Williams, as well as books, recordings, international performances and unprecedented media-wide attention.
The 150th birthday itself falls on Wednesday 12 October 2022 with celebrations taking place up to and beyond this date. As a fitting opening to the year, we shall be celebrating the centenary of the first performance of the composer’s Pastoral Symphony, (Symphony No.3), given by the Orchestra of the Royal Philharmonic Society under Adrian Boult in the Queen’s Hall on 26 January 1922.
The Society has drawn up plans to raise awareness and support external activities, and work is being split between members of the Board of Trustees and Officers. This includes contacting potential promoters, performers, publicists, media and recording labels, and collaborating with the Vaughan Williams Charitable Trust and the composer’s publishers who will be pushing forward the newest editions of his music.
The anniversary provides an opportunity for the widest range of performances internationally – if you have contacts with performers, wherever you are, please let them know about the birthday year and the support that the Society and the Charitable Trust can offer. We are also particularly keen to encourage amateur performances and members of our team can advise on programming choices, programme notes and publicity.
We anticipate that commemorative activities will include a scholarly seminar at the British Library and we expect Vaughan Williams to have a strong presence at the major music festivals and venues. To aid the widest possible interaction, we have suggested several well-known ‘RVW Ambassadors’ to film informative and entertaining vignettes or sound bites to raise awareness more broadly. We will continue to report on our plans in the members’ Journal. If you have ideas or can offer help, please do get in touch with the team. For non-members thinking about joining the Society, now is the ideal time as we gather resources and aim to place Vaughan Williams at the centre of global music-making.
Vaughan Williams’s legacy
In a long and productive life, hardly a music genre has been left untouched or failed to be enriched by Vaughan Williams’s work, which includes nine symphonies, five operas, music for film, ballet and stage, several song cycles, church music and works for chorus and orchestra. The popularity of the composer’s most accessible works, in particular the Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis and The Lark Ascending, has never been higher, with radio polls consistently voting these as the nation’s favourites.
Amongst recent champions of the composer, conductors such as Sir Andrew Davis (the Society’s President), Martyn Brabbins, Andrew Manze, Sir Mark Elder, Sir Roger Norrington, as well as Martin Yates and John Wilson, have all either recorded symphony cycles or conducted the composer’s major works both in the UK and abroad to wide-spread acclaim. Most recently, Esa-Pekka Salonen and Sir Antonio Pappano have also conducted symphonies in London.
21st-century musicians who have acknowledged Vaughan Williams’s influence on their development include John Adams, PJ Harvey, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Anthony Payne, Wayne Shorter, Neil Tennant and Mark-Anthony Turnage.
Help for your project
Funding may be available through the Vaughan Williams Charitable Trust who are particularly interested in supporting the more rarely heard works. You can also obtain the ‘RVW150’ logo for your publicity purposes: www.vwct.org.uk
The Ralph Vaughan Williams Society
We will be publicising activities to our membership and the wider world through our website and on social media.
Comprehensive information about the composer’s life and works can be found at: www.rvwsociety.com/list-of-works
Specific enquiries should be directed to the Society’s Officers:
Concert Resources Officer: John Treadway
For programme notes and advice on organising your concert: firstname.lastname@example.org
Information Officer: Graham Muncy
For all general matters relating to Ralph Vaughan Williams: email@example.com
Publicity and Events Officer: Karen Fletcher
To publicise events, concerts, recordings, publications: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Ralph Vaughan Williams Society is a Registered Charity No: 1156614. Registered address: North House, 198 High Street, Tonbridge, Kent TN9 1BE.