Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Adrian Boult

Letter No.: 
[27 July 1934]

The White Gates,
Westcott Road,

Dear Adrian

Several people have expressed surprize to me that the Proms contain no concert devoted to Gustav’s music.1  I have an idea that one of the B.B.C. Autumn Concerts is going to be devoted to his music - am I right in this?  And if so may I tell people who ask me why there is no Concert of his music at the “Proms”?
Also you may know that Gustav was planning a Symphony of which the Scherzo was already finished.2  I feel this ought to have an important place in next seasons scheme – not at a memorial concert (as a sort of pious memorial) but for its own sake at an ordinary concert.
Will it fit in to one of the B.B.C. Wednesdays or shall I write to the Philharmonic?3


1. Gustav Holst had died on 25th May.
2. Scherzo, H192.
3. Boult did not reply until 16th August: ‘I am sorry we have been so long answering your letter, particularly as I gather you want the information for other people. Various circumstances, which are too long to write, but which I will tell you, have made it only possible that our second Concert should contain a memorial to Gustav.  We are doing “The Planets” that day, and I hope it will be a worthy performance.  Owing to the previous engagement of Myra Hess, who can come on no other date, it is not possible to give the complete programme to his works, but a space is being left in a later Concert for the Scherzo.  We certainly should like to have it, though I am always careful to say that we are not out to grasp first performances.  If it is of use to other organizations to have the first performance, we are quite content to give the second.  This is a matter of principle, but I personally do feel rather selfish and greedy where the Scherzo is concerned.  One of our Programme Advisory Committee members mentioned a new Symphony by yourself.  I need hardly say we are only too ready to get more information when you feel like giving it to us. ACB’. The Scherzo was first performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Boult on 6th February 1935 at the Queen’s Hall.

Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
File 910, VW composer
General notes: 

Date is that of receipt, noted on original.
Printed together with Boult’s reply in Moore, Music and Friends pp.116-117.

Cobbe 249; Moore, Music and Friends, p.116
Original database number: