Ralph Vaughan Williams  (1872 - 1958)

Vaughan Williams studied with Ravel in Paris for about three months in 1907/08; he had initially intended to apply to d'Indy but was advised by Calvocoressi to seek tuition from Ravel instead.

VW wrote: "...I learned much from him. For example, that the heavy contrapuntal Teutonic manner was not necessary. 'Complexe mais pas compliqué' was his motto. He showed me how to orchestrate in points of colour rather than in lines."

"...His own music was 'tout à fait simple, rien que Mozart'. He was against development for its own sake - one should only develop for the sake of arriving at something better." (Vaughan Williams, [1963]).

After VW's departure, Ravel actively sought to arrange performances of his work in Paris, and was clearly impressed by his pupil - who became a friend. He wrote to VW in March 1908: "En tout cas, je n'ai pas besoin de vous dire que je ferai mon possible pour que soit jouée l'oeuvre d'un élève dont j'ai sujet de me targuer." (Orenstein, [1989], letter 47). VW wrote in his Musical autobiography: "Ravel paid me the compliment of telling me that I was the only pupil who 'n'écrit pas de ma musique'".

In April 1909, Ravel stayed with the Vaughan Williams at their home in Cheyne Walk. "He was a pleasant visitor. Ralph enjoyed taking him sight-seeing, and was fascinated to find that he liked English food.  ...It appeared that steak and kidney pudding with stout at Waterloo Station was Ravel's idea of pleasurably lunching out." (Ursula Vaughan Williams, [1964], pp.85-86). Ravel enjoyed himself: in his letter of thanks to Adeline Vaughan Williams, he wrote: "C'est la première fois qu'il m'arrive de regretter vivement un autre pays.  ...Il a fallu cet accueil cordial et délicat ... pour me faire goûter le charme et la magnificence de Londres, presque en Londinien." Orenstein, [1989], letter 62)

In February 1912, Vaughan Williams attended a brilliant concert in Paris which included his song-cycle On Wenlock Edge, with Ravel playing the piano part (Orenstein, [1989] letters 93, 95).