Letters of Ralph Vaughan Williams 1895-1958
Oxford University Press, Oct 15, 2008 - Biography & Autobiography - 679 pages
The book comprises a selection of some 750 letters of the composer, Ralph Vaughan Williams, selected from an extant corpus of about 3,300. The letters are arranged chronologically and have been chosen to provide a cumulative pen-picture of the composer in his own words. In general the letters reflect VW's major preoccupations: musical, personal and political. It was not VW's way to discuss his inner creative processes but he does discuss his music, once it had been written: for example there is much to illustrate the process of 'washing the face' of his major pieces before, and after, they had reached the concert platform. There is correspondence with collaborators such as Gilbert Murray, Harold Child and Evelyn Sharpe who provided texts; with his publishers (mainly OUP) about printing scores and parts; with conductors such as Adrian Boult and John Barbirolli about performances. He was in regular correspondence with fellow composers such as Gustav Holst, George Butterworth, Gerald Finzi, Herbert Howells, John Ireland, Alan Bush and Rutland Boughton. There were his pupils: Elizabeth Maconchy and Cedric Thorpe Davie amongst others. A series of close personal friendships is well represented: his Cambridge contemporary and cousin Ralph Wedgwood, Edward Dent, and latterly Michael Kennedy. Above all there are insights on his lifelong devotion to his first wife, Adeline, and his growing friendship with Ursula Wood, who was to become his second wife.
In general the book paints a self-portrait of Vaughan Williams not only as a great composer but as a large-minded and public-spirited personality who towered over the British musical world for forty years.
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13 Cheyne Walk Adeline Adeline's Adrian Boult Alan Frank asked August Cambridge carols Cheyne Walk choral chorus composer concert conducted conductor copy course dance Dear Dent December Dorking Elgar Elizabeth Maconchy English Eslyn February feel Festival friends Gerald Finzi give glad Gustav Holst Hall Hanover Terrace Harriet Cohen hear heard Herbert Howells Holst hope Hubert Foss John July June Leith Hill letter is printed March mind musicians never October opera orchestra Oxford performance perhaps pfte piano pianoforte play postmark printed in RVW programme published R. O. Morris R.VW Ralph Vaughan Williams Ralph Wedgwood Regents Park rehearsal score Sea Symphony seems sincerely Sinfonia Antartica singing song sorry suggest Surrey tell Thank thing thought tune Uncle Ralph Ursula Wood VW's Westcott Road White Gates wish words write written wrote Yrs RVW