Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Dr Mary Grierson

Letter No.: 
27th September, 1950.

The White Gates,
Dorking, Surrey.

Dear Dr Grierson
I think two stories have got mixed up in your mind. It must have been in 1909 or '10 when I first asked Tovey's advice about my "Sea Symphony". In my original score, which is still preserved in the pianoforte score, I started the full orchestra on the first beat of the bar. I then realised that this would entirely obscure the word "Sea" sung by the chorus. On the other hand I did not wish to have nothing for the orchestra and asked Tovey's advice, and he suggested the plan I have carried out - only the timpani and the organ pedal on the first beat.

About his later suggestion of adding bass drum as well, I cannot remember having a letter from him on the subject, and I do not remember having sent it to you, but I suppose I must have, otherwise you would not know about it, unless it is a copy you have seen.1

May I add for your private information that I talked to Tovey about your succeeding him when he retired, and all he did was to murmur "snobopolis", "snobopolis".

Yrs sincerely
R Vaughan Williams

Dr. Mary Grierson

1. VW corrected himself in a later letter; see VWL3050 and also VWL3048. Grierson was writing a biography of Tovey.


Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
Tovey Collection, L2553
General notes: 

Typewritten, signed.