Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Roy Douglas

Letter No.: 
October 28th 1955.

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

Dear Roy,

Many thanks for first movement,1 which I return under a separate cover.
I think I have noted all your corrections. Now for your special points: (1) I have never put numbers to my symphonies yet and I don't want to start now. After all, Beethoven wrote a D major and a D minor, & nobody seems much the worse and it won't do much harm if they do play number five instead of number eight!  (2) Trombones; I have decided to add 3, instead of your 1, at the end of the first movement.  This involves altering the horns in one or two places.  I hope you will approve.  It was really pure willfulness2 which made me leave them out in the first movement because I determined to do without them, though the necessity stared me in the face.  You may remember that the original version of the last movement also had no trombones.
(3) Harps: I dont want two harps if I can help it.  Impressarios3 do not seem to mind how much percussion they engage, but I only know of 2 performances of my Sea Symphony in 45 years in which the second harp was used, so I suggest using your second emendation for the end of the first movement - the one with one harp part only, [manuscript marginal note inserted: LH to double RH 8ve lower] and I have marked certain places, harp to be doubled if possible.  In the last movement I wd. have 2 harp parts if you think it is absolutely unavoidable, but the second harp MUST be marked ad. lib, & so arranged that we shan’t mind much if its not there.


1. Of the Symphony no. 8 in D minor.
2. sic.
3. sic.


Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
Add MS 63547, f. 92
General notes: 

Typewritten, signed.

Cobbe 662; Douglas, Working with Vaughan Williams, p.81
Original database number: