Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Alan Frank (OUP)

Letter No.: 
VWL2250
May 30th, 1951.

The White Gates,
Dorking, Surrey.

Dear Frank,

I have several letters from you to answer:
1. I am quite agreeable to the idea of an orchestral suite made out of my “Four Seasons”. I thought I had answered this before, and had agreed to your suggestion that it should be done by Roy Douglas. I have not time to do it myself.1
The only trouble about Roy Douglas is that he may soon be busy re-writing my Opera for me.
2. The B.B.C. at Bristol asked me if I will make an orchestral Fantasia out of my incidental music to “The Mayor of Casterbridge”.2 If that comes off at all I should have to do it myself. Do you approve of the idea?3
3. As regards separate songs from P.P. I suggest
(1) Act II, Page 8 - “Who Would True Valour See” This would, of course, have to be re-arranged for a solo voice.
(2) Act II, Page 13 - “Blest be the Lord”. This, of course, would have to be lengthened for concert purposes. As a matter of fact I am lengthening it a bit for the stage.
(3) Act II, Page 38 - “Unto Him”. This would again want re-arranging.
(4) Act III. I am writing a new song for Lord Lechery, which might be included if it passes the Censor.4
(5) Act IV, Page 2 - “He that is down”. This would want re-arranging.
(6) Act IV, Page 24 - “Whoso Dwelleth”. This would want considerable enlargement.
(7) Act IV, Page 36. “The Lord is my Shepherd”.5
It has also been suggested that I should make a sort of Fantasia of “York” out of the music in the Opera. I am quite in favour of the idea but I think someone else would have to do it.6
I am glad to hear Stokowski is coming. I hope he will like it.
I shall be sending you Act II of “Pilgrim’s Progress” shortly now. I could also send you Act IV fairly quickly, but Act III will take some time. Will it be any use sending you Act IV before Act III?
I like the idea of a Cantata out of P.K. - but again I think someone else would have to do this.7
By the way, I find it was you who suggested the Fantasia on “York”.
Yours sincerely,

R. Vaughan Williams


1. This was Suite from the Cantata Folk Songs of the Four Seasons, Catalogue of Works 1949/1a.
2. Catalogue of Works 1950/5.
3. Prelude on an Old Carol Tune (1953) was adapted from this incidental music
4. Words by UVW.
5. The eventual publication, Seven songs from The Pilgrim’s Progress (Catalogue of Works 1951/1a), had ‘Watchful’s song’ as no.1 and did not include ‘Whoso dwelleth’ (the proposed no.6).
6. This did not happen since Frank thought it would need to be done by VW himself.
7. The idea of a cantata taken from the music for The Poisoned Kiss (Catalogue of Works 1936/4) did not bear fruit.

Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
File 119
General notes: 

Typewritten, signed.

Format: 
Letter
Original database number: 
510530