Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Adrian Boult

Letter No.: 
April 1 [1945]

The White Gates

Dear Adrian

We want to thank you very much for a fine performance of St John – clarity & emotion combined which one seldom gets together.  I thought all the soloists with one exception which I will not specify were very good.  If I may venture on one criticism I think the long wait between the numbers interferes with the continuity – Of course one wants pauses at the end of each episode otherwise I feel that each number should be attacca.  What a pity that the 1st Chorus is not up to the level of the rest – Would you consider one substituting ‘O Mensch bewein’ from St Matthew which I believe was originally the opening chorus of St John?1
Your Narrator was splendid.2
Our love to Ann.


1. This, according to Northrop Moor, related to a broadcast performance of Bach’s St John Passion from the wartime headquarters of the BBC at Bedford. The broadcast was on 30 March (Good Friday in 1945), with Part 1 at 3:40-4:30 and Part 2 and 7:20-9:00 (according to Radio Times, issue 1121 (25 March 1945), p. 16).
2. The Evangelist (i.e.the ‘splendid’ Narrator) was Peter Pears.


General notes: 

Transcribed from the text published in Jerrold Northrop Moore, Music & friends: seven decades of letters to Adrian Boult, (London 1979), p. 146. Original not traced.

Moore, Music and Friends, p.146
Original database number: