Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Alan Frank (OUP)

Letter No.: 
VWL3277
July 6th 1958

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

Dear Alan1,

I return the P. P.2 songs with my comments.3 The original obbligato in the woodcutters song is for clarinet, so it had better be played on that if there is one available, but a flute, or - I suppose - a recorder, may be substituted, and I have made a note to that effect. I have changed the title of number 4 to the Song of the Tree of Life. No. 2., Song of the Pilgrims is to my mind essentially a unison song, and I think it ought to remain one.
Yours sincerely

RVW (not insincere!)

I enclose a letter which may interest you. Do not return it.4


1.  Music Editor in succession to Norman Peterkin (1947); Head of Music from 1954 until his retirement in 1975.
2.  i.e. The Pilgrim’s Progress, CW 1951/1.
3.  VW was responding to a suggestion from Frank of 2nd July: 
It has been suggested—and I think there is quite a lot to be said for the suggestion—that we should consider issuing three of the Seven Songs from Pilgrim’s Progress (CW 1951/1a) in 8vo form, for school singing. These are:
THE SONG OF THE LEAVES OF LIFE: This could be absolutely as it stands, though I would suggest altering the title, which is, of course, too long for the present purpose. Could we call it THE TREE OF LIFE?
THE WOODCUTTER’S SONG: Again the music should stand unaltered, but I think we would indicate the line which can be played by a solo flute, or for that matter recorder: schools would like to use the latter instrument, and the part is very playable. I know you have no love for the recorder, but perhaps you could tolerate it. I enclose a marked copy, in which I have suggested the flute part between square brackets.
THE SONG OF THE PILGRIMS: This we think would be better if arranged for part singing, probably two-part, i.e. sopranos and baritones. It is the sort of vigorous setting that would be very welcome in this form in secondary schools. At the same time the piano part would need recasting in certain places. If you approve in principle of the idea, but don’t wish to do the adaptation yourself, we can easily have someone do it and show it to you for your approval.
4.  Apparently a letter from Poland about a performance of Sinfonia Antartica.

Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
File 810H
Format: 
Letter
Original database number: 
580706