Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Eric Walter White

Letter No.: 
VWL2851
18th November, 1948.

The White Gates,
Dorking,
Surrey.

Dear Mr. White,

Thank you very much for your letter. I have also had one from Miss Glasgow1, and though your letters flatter me they rather alarm me, because as I have already explained to her this will be in no sense a performance. The work2 is not really finished yet and it is partly for this reason that I want to go through it with some experts before I do put the final touches.
I should like to ask a few friends including, of course, Steuart Wilson3 and anybody he wants to bring and perhaps somebody from Sadlers Wells, and of course Miss Glasgow, yourself, Mr. Dennison4 and anybody else from 4 St. James’ Square, but anybody who comes must clearly understand what they are in for. So I have suggested to Miss Glasgow perhaps you will want to withdraw your kind offer on hearing this. If not, the question of dates will be a difficulty.
Up to Christmas all dates are free for me and Michael Mullinar5except November 26th (evening), November 27th, November 30th, December 1st, 4th, 5th, 8th (evening), 12th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 20th and 21st. These are dates on which I am not free. Also you must not choose a date on which Steuart Wilson cannot come, because he is one of the important people.
Will you thank Mr. Dennison very much for his suggestions about the singers, but I do not think that is practical.6
I shall have, I hope, about four or five copies of the libretto which I can hand round at the time and a few people can look over the music. Other people I should like to ask because I have mentioned are Hubert Foss, Alan Frank, Edmund Rubbra, Gerald Finzi, Inglis Gundry and a few others.
I am very grateful to you for all you are doing.
Yours sincerely,

R. Vaughan Williams

(R. Vaughan Williams).

Eric White, Esq.,
Arts Council of Great Britain.


1.  Mary Glasgow,  Secretary-General of the Arts Council.
2.  The Pilgrim’s Progress (Catalogue of Works 1951/1).
3.  Steuart Wilson was, at this time, Director of Music at the BBC but in 1949 went to be Deputy General Administrator of the Royal Opera House where Pilgrim’s Progress was eventually to be performed.
4.  John Denison, music director of the Arts Council, 1948-65.
5.  The pianist who played through many of VW’s works in such ‘try-throughs’ at this time.
6.  Denison said if VW wanted 2 or 3 singers for some of the airs, he could probably arrange to pay them a small token fee.

Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
Arts Council archive file EL 2/20
General notes: 

Typewritten, signed.

Format: 
Letter
Citation: 
Cobbe 507
Original database number: 
481118