Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Simona Pakenham

Letter No.: 
August 24th 1958

Dearest Simona

Very MUCH AGAINST MY WILL I have arranged to orchestrate1 for an orchestra of 32.2 I understand there will be plenty of room for them, including a bulky thing like a harp. Of course its no good putting the players in a pit where there won't be room for them to play ... this applies specially to the strings with their bow-arms. In detail, the orchestra will be Strings: 6,4,3,3,2, total 18. Woodwind, 2 flutes, (flute doubling piccolo), 1 oboe, 1 clarinet, 1 bassoon. Total 5. Brass, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones. Total, 6. 1 harp, 1 timp, (ad lib.) this makes 1 or 2. Grand total 31 or 30. This means a certain amount of re-writing but I will do my best.


1.  i.e. The First Nowell, see Catalogue of Works, p.254 (1958/3).
2.  VW was responding reluctantly to the constraints imposed by the orchestra pit at the Drury Lane Theatre, where the work was to be given at a charity matinée. It was a condition for using the theatre that the layout for 'My Fair Lady', which was then showing there, should not in any way be disturbed. Work on the score was found to be about three-quarters complete when VW died not quite two days later. The work was finished by Roy Douglas on the basis of his sketches; see Douglas, Working with Vaughan Williams, p.102ff.

Cobbe 754
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