Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to the Editor of The Times

Letter No.: 
VWL2693
18 June 1953

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

“GLORIANA”

Sir,

I do not propose, after a single hearing, to appraise either the words or the music of Gloriana.  The important thing to my mind, at the moment, is that, so far as I know, for the first time in history the Sovereign has commanded an opera by a composer from these islands for a great occasion.  Those who cavil at the public expense involved should realize what such a gesture means to the prestige of our own music.
Yours faithfully,

RALPH VAUGHAN WILLIAMS.


1. Gloriana, commissioned from Benjamin Britten as part of the coronation celebrations, had had a controversial premiere on 8 June at Covent Garden. On the opera's critical reception see Robert Hewison, '"Happy were he": Benjamin Britten and the Gloriana story' and Antonia Malloy, ' Britten's Major Setback? Aspects of the First Critical Response to Gloriana', both in Paul Banks (ed.), Britten's Gloriana: Essays and Sources (Woodbridge, 1993). The letter is printed in R.V.W.: a biography, p.335.

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Printed in The Times newspaper on 23 June 1953.

Format: 
Letter
Citation: 
Cobbe: 612; R.V.W.: a biography, p.335
Original database number: 
530618