Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Sir Adrian Boult (BBC)

Letter No.: 
[Mid April 1939]

From R. Vaughan Williams,
The White Gates,
Westcott Road,

Dear Adrian

(1) I would do much to oblige both Mr. Ogilvie & yourself – But I stick to my opinion that I am not the man for this job – the reason that I am a composer represented at the festival being one of them.  Incidentally it will be the day after the L.H.M.1 & Lewes festivals & I shall be incapable of thinking much less of speaking.2
Why not Allen or Dyson3 – either wd be ideal (I know Dyson is a composer – but he is also something else)
(2) Now one other thing – do you think you cd possibly find time to run through our American tunes with your orchestra before we pack them off to the World’s Fair?4
(3) I wish you cd come to our B Minor (April 21) – but you said something about rehearsal (3.0 p.m)  Of course I shall not be able to let the choir sing – but you could give hints as to orchestra piano, organ (Hammond) etc.


1.  Leith Hill Musical Festival. Ogilvie was Director-General of the BBC.
2. VW had presumably been asked to speak at an event connected with the London Music Festival, at the opening of which his Festival Te Deum (Catalogue of Works, 1937/2) was to be sung (see R.V.W.: a biography, p.226).
3. Sir Hugh Allen, Professor of Music at Oxford and Director of the Royal College of Music; George Dyson, Director of Music at Winchester College and, in 1938, Allen’s successor at the Royal College of Music. He was knighted in 1941.
4.  VW had written Five Variants of ‘Dives and Lazarus' (Catalogue of Works, 1939/2) for performance at the New York World Fair – see Kennedy, Works of Vaughan Williams, p.258.

Location of original letter:

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

Date taken from context in file.

Original database number: