Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Anne Macnaghten

Letter No.: 

The White Gates,
Westcott Road,

My Dear Anne

How splendid of you to be carrying on with the good work.1
I have several suggestions:
(1) Dorothy Gow’s 4tet is good but v. hard still you might try it through & see (she’s never heard it yet).
Also she has a ‘scherzo fugale’ for 5 wind instruments - this again will want very expert playing.

(2) Grace Williams - you ought to do her two psalms for contralto & small orch. (Meriel Green would sing them)
also the Valse from her ballet - I believe her variations on "Veni Emmanuel" for str. 4tet are good but I don’t know them

(3) Kennedy Andrews has written some lovely songs and fine motets for unnaccomp voice (chiefly O.U.P.)

(4) Somers Cocks’ sonatina for oboe & pianoforte lovely also some v. good songs

(5) Gerald Finzi: Symphony for chamber orchestra also oboe 5tet (or concerto)  (I don’t know this)
also some v. good songs
also a v. good choral work with small orch (I forget its name)

(6) David Griffith a very pleasant Fantasy-str[ing]-4tet.

(7) You ought to get into touch with Benjamin Britten2 - I believe he has a str 4tet. I don’t know it - but his orchestral & choral things are fine

(8) Helen Hunter Fantasy for string trio (I think) v. good

(9) I’ve never heard of Fred Stone3


Uncle Ralph

P.S. I was so glad to hear your good news of Betty4

1. Anne Macnaghten  and Iris Lemare had founded the Macnaghten Concerts Society in 1931 to perform the works of young or little-known British composers. She had written to VW, apparently asking him if he knew of works by these composers which might be performed in her concerts.
2. String Quartet in D major, written in 1931. Britten revised it in 1974 and it was published in 1975.
3. VW had encountered most of these composers as pupils at the Royal College of Music. Of the number Gow, Williams, Andrews, Somers-Cocks, Finzi and Britten all went on to make a name for themselves in varying degrees. Macnaghten made a note to herself on the verso of the letter: ‘Orchestral: G Williams. Contralt – Psalms; Finzi Symphony Write now; Andrews; Haydn Concerto; Write to Britten – what & how long.’
4. Elizabeth Maconchy

Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
GB 1111 GBS
Cobbe 220
Original database number: