Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Stanford Robinson (BBC)

Letter No.: 
16th November, 1949.

The White Gates,
Dorking, Surrey.

Dear Stanford Robinson

Thank you so much for your letter.  It was a great pleasure attending those rehearsals, and I thought that, good as the first performance was, the second was still better.1
As regards your point on Page 91 of the vocal score, you must remember that the turnkey has been set earlier in the Act to watch the “spy” and has fallen asleep, but that after the hubbub has all started he suddenly wakes up knowing nothing of what has happened and cries out, “The spy has escaped”, so I feel that that does not spoil the dramatic point of John’s line at all, indeed I think it adds to it, because the spy has not escaped.
This can only be tried out on stage and of course you quite rightly altered it for broadcasting.
I trust you entirely about the question of altering the orchestration on Pages 87 and 88.
As regards the male chorus in the same number - that has never come through musically and I fear we must write it off as a “bad debt”; but it adds to the general hubbub and excitement and I think if we took out the other vocal parts we should lose that.  As a matter of fact the women also have a rather nice tune there which is never heard.
I should like to come to your rehearsal on November 24th or 27th if I possibly can.  Not that I mistrust you in any way, but simply for the pleasure of the thing.2

R Vaughan Williams

1.  The first two of six broadcast performances of Hugh the Drover (Catalogue of Works 1924/2) had taken place on 29th and 31st October.
2.  Further performances were to be broadcast on 27th December 1949, 10th, 13th March and 16th May 1950.

Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
File 910, VW composer
General notes: 

Typewritten, signed.

Original database number: