This digital edition contains the world premiere edition of Vaughan Williams’ Suite for Two Pipes. This five-movement piece was recorded on the FR2 CD.
The score is 9 pages. The parts are 5 pages each.
At the start of the twentieth century, composer Ralph Vaughan Williams was one of the key figures within the English music scene. He was strongly influenced by folk traditions and instruments. Williams was elected president of the British Piper’s Guild in 1933; a title that now belongs to Joris Van Goethem. This recording of Vaughan Williams’ Suite for Two Pipes is a world premiere and is just as exciting as it is unique. On our CD we played these recently discovered duets in the style of the day, on our own bamboo pipes, which we made in the tradition of The Pipers’ Guild.
Rose Atkinson, president of the Guild:
Bamboo pipes were developed by Margaret James in the 1920s as a way of teaching music to children who had no access to orchestral instruments. She founded The Pipers’ Guild in 1932 and Ralph Vaughan Williams was elected President in 1933. He believed in making music as available as possible to everybody and as such he was a great champion of the bamboo pipe. In 1940 he wrote: “If we are not careful, we shall soon find there is no one left to listen to because we have not made the seed bed from which the sturdier plants will grow. It is to guard against this catastrophe that The Pipers’ Guild exists where everyone not only makes his own music but makes his own instrument as well.” However, it appears that he was not so fond of recorders as this correspondence from 1937 proves: “I am much interested in the English Pipers’ Guild but I am not so interested in recorders”.
In 1933 Vaughan Williams wrote a Suite for Two Pipes for the Pipers’ Guild summer school in Chichester that year. A report from the Summer School Director says: “It gave staff many vigorous hours of work. It is no exaggeration to say that the new musical idiom reduced them to tears. It is a difficult series, with an extraordinary, lasting charm.” Sadly, the Suite seems then to have been forgotten and it was never catalogued let alone published, unlike the Suite for Four Pipes which Vaughan Williams wrote in 1939.
In 2010 Tom Beets and Joris van Goethem learn to make their own bamboo pipes, starting their own love affair with this instrument; and in 2018 Joris follows in Vaughan Williams’ footsteps becoming President of The Pipers’ Guild.
This FR2 edition of the Suite for Two Pipes follows the handwritten copy that is in the Guild’s library as closely as possible. Editorial additions are marked between brackets or with dashed lines. The manuscript is not in Vaughan William’s handwriting and appears to be a contemporary copy. See below for a music example of the manuscript.
We wish to thank the Vaughan Williams Charitable Trust for granting us permission for this publication. This edition exists in two versions, one for bamboo pipes and one for recorder duet. Only the clefs and octave notation differ in the two versions.
More info on The Pipers’ Guild can be found on the website www.pipersguild.org.