“I believe that all the arts, and especially music, are necessary to a full life… It is necessary to know facts, but music will enable you to see past facts to the very essence of things in a way which science cannot do. The arts are the means by which we can look through the magic casements and see what lies beyond.”Ralph Vaughan Williams
Ralph Vaughan Williams OM (12 October 1872 – 26 August 1958) was an English composer and one of the great symphonists of the 20th century. He is also still one of our most popular composers, with his The Lark Ascending regularly topping the Classic FM ‘Hall of Fame’. He created important works in most major musical forms and genres, from symphonies and operas through to songs and chamber music, but also music for film and other contexts. His involvement in a range of musical organisations, and the support he provided to younger composers, made him a central figure in British musical life.
In February 1953 he married Ursula Wood (née Lock; 15 March 1911 – 23 October 2007) an English poet and author, and subsequently the biographer of her husband. Ursula, through her will, established the Vaughan Williams Charitable Trust which became active in 2008 – the 50th anniversary year of the composer’s death.
The following links will help you to explore the compositions and life of Ralph Vaughan Williams:
The Letters of RVW – transcripts of 5,088 items of correspondence, fully indexed, can be read online in an ongoing collection, supported by the Trust.
The Lark Ascending – Daily Telegraph music critic, Ivan Hewett, delves into the enduring popularity of the work.
British Library houses an extensive collection of manuscripts, letters and articles about RVW.
Leith Hill Place in Surrey was the childhood home of RVW who gave it to the National Trust in 1944. Open to the public for part of the year.
RVW Trust – our sister charity – founded by the composer to assist his composing colleagues – and today one of the most significant sources of funding for contemporary and recent music in the UK.
150th Anniversary Celebrations
Vaughan Williams’s Publishers
To hire or buy scores and performing materials, and for questions of copyright please contact the following: