RVW’s Letters


Ralph Vaughan Williams’s correspondence - with his friends, family, pupils and fellow musicians - paints an intriguing portrait of the man, as well as providing fascinating insights into his major preoccupations: musical, personal and political.

The VWF database includes transcripts of over 5,000 items of annotated correspondence, fully indexed and searchable, which can all be read online. It includes all the letters of Ralph Vaughan Williams known to the editors and is an ongoing project. Find out more about using the database.

The text of letters written by Ralph Vaughan Williams remains in the copyright of the Vaughan Williams Foundation and may not be further reproduced without the prior written consent of the Foundation.

Featured Letter

from Vaughan Williams, Ralph, 1872-1958 to Piper, Miss

Letter No. VWL4064

Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to the Misses Piper

Letter No.: VWL4064

[December] 1941

Fire Watching Jan & Feb

Thursday Jan 1st
Tuesday    –    13
Tuesday    –    27
Friday Feb 6
Wednesday Feb 18

Hours 11.p.m. – 7.0 A.M.


A teacher's advice is not meant to be taken like a Pill but thought about & then: 1) adopted, or (2) rejected, or (perhaps best of all) (3) a 3rd course suggests itself from thinking the matter over.

RVW letter to GRACE WILLIAMS 1920

New York on the 26th, lecture at Yale on the 1st. Sail on the 4th. Ralph is terrifically well and bouncy and THRIVES on milkshakes and butterscotch sundaes.

UVW letter from New York to Michael and Eslyn Kennedy 1954

Most of Stravinsky bores me. I wish he even shocked me: especially the Rite of Spring...but I do like Symphony of Psalms, Les Noces, and the Suite for Violin and Pianoforte, of which I once heard a record under very peculiar circumstances, of which I will tell you one day.

RVW letter to MICHAEL KENNEDY 1957

You have never lost your invention but it has not developed enough.  Your best – your most original and beautiful style or ‘atmosphere’ is an indescribable sort of feeling as if one was listening to very lovely lyrical poetry.

GUSTAV HOLST letter to RVW 1903