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, year or subject (singly or in combination). Partial matches will also be found, e.g. searching “sky” will also find “Stravinsky”. To search for a phrase use inverted commas, e.g. “New York”.

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

Filter letters

Letter No. Title Date Date on Letter
VWL5229 Letter from Gustav Holst to Ralph Vaughan Williams 19190412 April 12 [1919]
VWL5228 Letter from Gustav Holst to Ralph Vaughan Williams 1903---- Saturday [1903]
VWL5227 Letter from Gustav Holst to Ralph Vaughan Williams 1903---- Tuesday [1903]
VWL5226 Letter from Gustav Holst to Ralph Vaughan Williams 1903---- Monday [1903]
VWL5195 Letter from Adrian Boult to Ralph Vaughan Williams 19390320 20 March 1939
VWL5194 Letter from George Trevelyan to Ralph Vaughan Williams 189306-- [June 1893?]
VWL4831 Letter from Herbert Howells to Ralph Vaughan Williams 19540825 25 Aug. 1954
VWL4692 Letter from Ernest Irving to Ralph Vaughan Williams 19480321 Sunday [21 March 1948]
VWL4677 Letter from R.O. Morris to Ralph Vaughan Williams 1935---- Thursday [1935]
VWL4610 Letter from Patrick Hadley and Henry Balfour Gardiner to Ralph Vaughan Williams 19350412 12 April 1935
VWL4596 Letter from Dorothy Longman to Ralph Vaughan Williams 19230408 Ap. 8 [1923]
VWL4595 Letter from Dorothy Longman to Ralph Vaughan Williams 19230330 Friday [30 March 1923]
VWL4499 Letter from Martin Shaw to Ralph Vaughan Williams 19280322 22nd March, 1928.
VWL4110 Letter from Martin Shaw to Ralph Vaughan Williams 19281005 5th October, 1928
VWL4096 Letter from Martin Shaw to Ralph Vaughan Williams 19270712 12th July, 1927.
VWL4079 Letter from Lionel Tertis to Ralph Vaughan Williams 19291024 Oct-24-29
VWL3965 Letter from Gustav Holst to Ralph Vaughan Williams 1903---- [1903]
VWL3963 Extract from a letter from Gustav Holst to Ralph Vaughan Williams 1903---- Saturday, [1903]
VWL3962 Letter from Gustav Holst to Ralph Vaughan Williams 19330901 Sep 1, [1933]
VWL3961 Letter from Gustav Holst to Ralph Vaughan Williams 19251111 Nov 11, [1925]
VWL3960 Letter from Gustav Holst to Ralph Vaughan Williams 192304-- April 9
VWL3959 Letter from Gustav Holst Ralph Vaughan Williams 192205-- Friday [May, 1922]
VWL3958 Letter from Gustav Holst to Ralph Vaughan Williams 19140329 Sunday [29 March, 1914]
VWL3957 Extract from a letter from Gustav Holst to Ralph Vaughan Williams 1903---- Monday, [1903]
VWL3928 Letter from Alan Bush to Ralph Vaughan Williams 19390412 12th April, 1939
VWL3905 Letter from Olin Downes Ralph Vaughan Williams 19530826 August 26, 1953
VWL3904 Letter from Olin Downes to Ralph Vaughan Williams 19530818 August 18, 1953
VWL3903 Letter from Gustav Holst to Ralph Vaughan Williams 192605-- Thursday [May or June 1926]
VWL3902 Letter from Gustav Holst to Ralph Vaughan Williams 19320415 April 15 [1932]
VWL3845 Letter from Olin Downes to Ralph Vaughan Williams 19430825 August 25, 1943

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