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The RVW Trust and Vaughan Williams Charitable Trust, the grant-giving charities founded by Vaughan Williams and his wife Ursula, have joined forces to form the Vaughan Williams Foundation.

On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Ralph Vaughan Williams’s birth on 12 October, the Vaughan Williams Foundation was launched by the trustees of the RVW Trust and the Vaughan Williams Charitable Trust. The new grant-giving charity merges the two trusts founded by the composer and his wife Ursula, funded by the royalties earned by his music.

The Vaughan Williams Foundation trustees affirmed that VWF would honour RVW’s commitment to supporting his fellow composers. VWF will also continue to help make RVW’s own work more widely accessible and support projects which contribute to the legacy of both Ralph and Ursula.

Applications for funding are now open to organisations and individuals, and the first grants will be announced in March 2023. Full details are at vaughanwilliamsfoundation.org.

The foundation’s website makes available some of VWF’s unique resources to throw greater light on the composer:

  • Transcripts of over 5000 items of RVW’s annotated correspondence – with his friends, family, pupils and fellow musicians – paint an intriguing portrait of the man, as well as providing fascinating insights into his major preoccupations: musical, personal and political. The letters are fully indexed and searchable and can be read online free of charge.

  • An extensive catalogue of the composer’s works guides users through the maze of his different publishers to the appropriate edition of each work.

  • A selection of photographs of Ralph and Ursula, from the collection of Ursula Vaughan Williams is also available to download for editorial use.

Launching the Foundation, Sally Groves MBE, VWF Chair, said: "Ralph Vaughan Williams was the most quietly generous of men, with an unquenchable interest in all music. We are delighted that the Vaughan Williams Foundation will allow his generosity of spirit to continue and will benefit composers and performers well beyond the life of his musical copyrights."

Classic Vaughan Williams works published by Boosey & Hawkes include On Wenlock Edge, Songs of Travel and the Four Hymns for tenor, solo viola and strings. The music of Ralph Vaughan Williams published by Oxford University Press, including The Lark Ascending, Five Variants of 'Dives and Lazarus', Sinfonia Antartica, Serenade to Music, as well as the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth symphonies, is promoted under license by Boosey & Hawkes.

Throughout the 150th anniversary celebrations a special series of new works responding to RVW’s music, ideas, or life, are being performed around the UK. All the commissions were supported by the RVW Trust.

Grace-Evangeline Mason, working with the Royal Philharmonic Society, is writing a new choral piece suitable for both professional and amateur choirs inspired by the music, ideas and life of RVW. The piece will be a 12-to-15-minute work for a large choir of mixed voices, up to 150 singers, with accompaniment from piano and a solo stringed instrument. Its premiere performance will be in March 2023 by the 2021 RPS Inspiration Award winners Bristol Choral Society and their Music Director Hilary Campbell.

Photo: 1957 Ralph & Ursula Vaughan Williams (Credit: Vaughan Williams Foundation)

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