Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Gustav Holst

Letter No.: 

My Dear V.

I am ashamed of not having written to you before.  I will first thank you for the ‘Ave Maria’ which I still think beautiful as I always did. I have [been] playing it over and pointing out its beauties to a cousin of mine who sings in the Magpies and have persuaded her to take an interest in it1.
I admire ‘Sita’2 very much - I had some criticisms however to make but I can’t remember what they are - and to tell you the truth I feel too lazy tonight to find the drawer where I have put it away.
I think the chief criticism was levelled against the dressing up device - which seems to me rather mechanical and not quite ‘rein menschlich’ enough. Also it is not quite ‘inevitable’ enough to fit in with the fatalistic nature of the rest of the plot.
I am alone in my glory at present and likely to be so for some time as my wife is at Brighton looking after her invalid brother3 and I don’t know when she’ll be able to leave him.
I have to go to Barnet4 twice a week now which is an awful nuisance.


1.  His cousin Diana Massingberd sang in The Magpie Madrigal Society. See Michael Short: Gustav Holst, the man and his music, p.40.
2.  Holst's Sita, op.23 H.89.
3.  Hervey Fisher.
4.  To teach at Mr Dunn's school, as noted in VWL132. VW was also working at a girls' school in Ladbroke Grove (see R.V.W.: a biography, p.60).

Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
MS Mus. 158, ff. 40-41
Cobbe 26; Heirs and Rebels, Letter VI
Original database number: