Search the letters

The Vaughan Williams Foundation has made over 5000 items freely available: chiefly letters from Ralph Vaughan Williams, but including some responses which shed light on the subject matter, and also a number of letters from Adeline and Ursula Vaughan Williams. These provide further information and often include messages or observations from Ralph, and there are also letters from Adeline and Ursula written on behalf of the couple. The text of letters written by RVW and UVW remain the copyright of the Foundation.

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The letters are in tabular form and can be sorted by column, or filtered by any keyword including name, musical title, place, year or subject (singly or in combination).

To search by letter number, include the prefix VWL, e.g. VWL123.

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Letter No. Title Date Date on Letter
VWL3494 Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to John Barbirolli 20221026 [Mid 1955]
VWL3510 Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to John Barbirolli 20220927 [October 1957]
VWL3696 Letter from Ursula Vaughan Williams to Alan Bush 19760103 January 3rd [1976]
VWL3189 Letter from Herbert Byard to Ursula Vaughan Williams 19600427 27 April 1960
VWL3702 Letter from Alan Bush to Ursula Vaughan Williams 19600130 January 30th, 1960.
VWL3701 Letter from Ursula Vaughan Williams to Alan Bush 19600103 January 3rd 1960
VWL4968 Letter from Ursula Vaughan Williams to Edmund Rubbra 19590313 March 13th [1959]
VWL3699 Letter from Alan Bush to Ursula Ralph Vaughan Williams 19590120 January 20th, 1959
VWL3698 Letter from Ursula Vaughan Williams to Alan Bush 19590115 January 15th 1959
VWL3190 Letter from Ursula Vaughan Williams to Nigel Fortune 19590104 January 4th, 1959
VWL3191 Letter from Ursula Vaughan Williams to Mrs Ross Lee Finney 19581122 22nd November 1958
VWL3697 Letter from Alan Bush to Ursula Vaughan Williams 19581103 November 3rd, 1958.
VWL3703 Letter from Ursula Vaughan Williams to Alan Bush 19581030 October 30th 1958
VWL3705 Letter from Alan Bush to Ursula Vaughan Williams 19581027 October 27th, 1958.
VWL110 Letter from Ursula Vaughan Williams to William Cole 19581018 October 18th 1958
VWL4198 Letter from Ursula Vaughan Williams to Martin Shaw 19580925 25 September, 1958
VWL3193 Letter from Percy Grainger to Ursula Vaughan Williams 19580925 Sept. 25, 1958
VWL3192 Letter from Ursula Vaughan Williams to Herbert Howells 19580925 25th September 1958
VWL3706 Letter from Alan Bush to Ursula Vaughan Williams 19580922 September 22nd, 1958.
VWL3689 Letter from Ursula Vaughan Williams to Michael Mullinar 19580921 September 21st 1958
VWL3194 Letter from Ursula Vaughan Williams to Norman Del Mar 19580921 September 21st 1958
VWL3195 Letter from Ursula Vaughan Williams to Lady Jessie Wood 19580915 September 15th 1958
VWL3196 Letter from Ursula Vaughan Williams to Margaret Keynes 19580909 September 9th, 1958
VWL3856 Letter from Ursula Vaughan Williams to Grace Williams 19580907 September 7th 1958
VWL3704 Letter from Ursula Vaughan Williams to Alan Bush 19580906 September 6th 1958.
VWL3197 Letter from Ursula Vaughan Williams to Vera Mackenzie and Molly Hodge 19580904 Sept. 4, 1958
VWL5098 Letter from Ursula Vaughan Williams to Jean Stewart 19580828 Thursday [28 August 1958]
VWL3708 Letter from Alan Bush to Ursula Vaughan Williams 19580828 August 28th, 1958.
VWL3707 Letter from Alan Bush to Ursula Vaughan Williams 19580828 August 28th, 1958.
VWL3224 Letter from Benjamin Britten to Ursula Vaughan Williams 19580828 August 28th 1958

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

He was one of the most 'complete' men I have ever known. He loved life, he loved work and his interest in all music was unquenchable and insatiable.

SIR JOHN BARBIROLLI, conductor

I was thunderstruck by the symphony last night - and hadn't expected to be. Jagged, pulsating and angry, from that very first clanging dissonance - how can it have come from the same source as the Tallis Fantasia?

AUDIENCE MEMBER, Newbury Festival