Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to the Editor of the Northern Echo

Letter No.: 
December 13th 1955.

From R. Vaughan Williams,
10, Hanover Terrace,
Regents Park,
London, N.W.1.

We are living in an age of specialisation and music, like other activities, while it has gained something from this has also lost something. We should be grateful for the invention of the gramophone and wireless for enabling those who are only moderate performers themselves to hear really expert performances which they doubtless could not hear otherwise, and which set a standard for them to aim at, even if they cannot achieve it. But is there not a danger that all this knob pressing and disc-whirring will take the place of active participation in the great art which we serve? and lead to mere passive acceptance.
We should all take part as far as our skill allows in the performance of good music, however humble our efforts may be. This will not only give us the exhaltation which great music should bring, but it will also help us to appreciate the performances of famous musicians.
Let us therefore all try to make our own music. Not indeed, instead of the music of the well known performers, but as the preparation for the due appreciation of their skill, and of the true nature of work which we are trying to play or sing.
When I was a boy I played the viola in our school orchestra. I remember particularly taking part in the slow movement of Beethoven's first symphony, and this experience gave me much more insight into the beauty of the work than listening to a gramophone record in an arm chair could have done.

R Vaughan Williams 

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General notes: 

Typewritten, signed. Apparently to the Editor of the Northern Echo; see Journal of the RVW Society, no.21, June 2001, p.22

Journal of the RVW Society, no.21, June 2001, p.22