Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Gustav Holst

Letter No.: 
Sat: [March 17th 1934]

The White Gates,
Westcott Road,

Dear Gustav

I was so glad we went yesterday - It was all Adeline’s doing - she suddenly said “let's go” - so we telephoned for the old Dorking Taxi & set off for London.
Rose Morse was superb - she really is a genuine lieder singer (only of course she doesn't wobble or sing out of tune, which I understand is a fatal defect in a lieder singer). She made me understand  the songs for the first time & now I love them.  I’m still not quite there with the canons.1
Vally was wonderful & played splendidly - so did Biddy - but Vally has far more dash in her playing though not so sure. As regards* your title “Brook Green” I'm not sure - won't it suggest a descriptive piece?2
Tomorrow is Tertis & your viola piece - I hope my wireless will not go wrong.3


* I understand from “The King’s English” that one may not say this.4

1.  Rose Morse was regularly singing Holst’s songs in concerts a this time, often accompanied by Imogen Holst (Michael Short, Gustav Holst: the man and his music p.317 and information from Rosamund Strode). The works referred to were Twelve Songs, op.48 H174 (settings of poems of Humbert Wolfe) and Eight canons for equal voices, H187. The canons present considerable difficulties for listener and performer alike since the voices each have their own key.
2. Vally Lasker and Helen Bidder, teachers at St Paul’s Girls’ School, who were also amanuenses and devoted assistants to Gustav Holst. They had apparently played a run-through of Holst’s  Brook Green Suite, H 190, on two pianos.
3. Lyric Movement for viola and small orchestra, H 191, which was being given its first performance the next day in a studio broadcast by Lionel Tertis with the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Adrian Boult.
4. H W and F G Fowler, The King’s English, Oxford 1906. VW perhaps had the new edition issued in 1930. The letter is printed in R.V.W.: a biography p.199, omitting the footnote.

Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
MS Mus. 1714/1/8, ff.13-15

Location of copy:

Shelfmark of copy: 
MS Mus. 1714/1/8, ff.16-18
General notes: 

Date from postmark.

R.V.W.: a biography, p.199
Original database number: