Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to G.E. Moore

Letter No.: 

Leith Hill Place
Nr Dorking

Dear Moore1

Thank you very much for your letter. I should be very much pleased to enter into such an arrangement as you suggest with your sister.2  The examination I have passed is supposed to certify my knowledge of 4 and 5 part counterpoint and fugue as well as harmony and all kindred subjects. I learned fugue under Bridge3 and, at Cambridge with Charles Wood,4 who to my mind had the most intelligent idea of what a fugue should be, of any counterpoint teacher I know. I think I may say that as far as knowledge goes I feel quite competent to teach fugue and kindred subjects but I ought to say that I have never given a lesson on it in my life. The irregularity would not matter to me in the least. With regard to terms I must find out what the “trade-union” rate is i.e. what it is usual for young men at the beginning of things to charge in like circumstances as I do not know.
The summary then is that I take, I think, a more intelligent view of counterpoint and fugue than many people would, but I have had no experience of teaching.
If your sister wishes for someone more experienced write to me again and I will try and recommend someone.
I stay here till the 6th when I return to 46 Vincent Square.
Yours always

R. Vaughan Williams

1. G.E. Moore, philosopher and author of Principia Ethica (1903).
2. Possibly the oldest of Moore’s four sisters, Annie Harriette, who had been at Cambridge at the same time as Moore and VW – see  Paul Levy, Moore: G.E.Moore and the Cambridge Apostles (London 1979), p.47. Presumably she had asked for music lessons.
3. Sir (John) Frederick Bridge, organist of Westminster Abbey and professor at the Royal College of Music.
4. Charles Wood, university lecturer at Cambridge, who succeeded Stanford as Professor of Music.


Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
MS Add.8330 8 V/3/1

Location of copy:

Shelfmark of copy: 
MS Mus. 1714/1/1, ff.33-36
Cobbe 1
Original database number: