Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to the performers in the Leith Hill Musical Festival of 1950

Letter No.: 
VWL2055
[April/May 1950]

By common agreement the singing and playing at the festival this year has been better than ever.  The Div.2 Choir had the privilege of the first performance in Dorking of 2 works by young  & comparatively unknown English composers - both of them to my mind more than repaid the hard work which was involved in their preparation.  I have received letters of thanks and praise both from Mr le Fleming and Mr Foster.1
 The Div one choirs deserve the gratitude of music lovers by reviving Parry’s splendid “St Cecilia” - we last did it here in 1911 and the composer was present.2
 The towns have two credits to record - one by their fine performance of Bach’s Cantata no.213 - one of his greatest works, but which, curiously, we have never performed in Dorking - Credit No 2 a splendid performance of Holst’s “Rig Veda” under the inspiring conductorship of Dr Cole - I have always wanted to include this great music in our programme but the opportunity has never arisen till now.4
 We are all very grateful to Dr Cole for undertaking this and other difficult modern compositions - of which I am getting too old to tackle either the difficult harmonies or the abstruse rhythms. This I must also now leave to younger singers & conductors.  The orchestra contained many distinguished artists who were willing for the love of music to undertake occupy “rank & file” positions in the orchestra.5
R. Vaughan Williams


1. The festival had included Five Psalms by Christopher le Fleming and Festive Carols by Arnold Foster.
2. Ode to St Cecilia.
3. Ich hätte viel Bekümmernis, BWV21.
4. Choral Hymns from the Rig Veda, 1st Group, op.26 no.1, H.97 written in 1908-10.
5. William Cole who succeeded VW as conductor of the festival. This letter was perhaps designed to pave the way for the eventual handing over.

Location of original letter:

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Format: 
Letter
Original database number: 
5004xa