Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Herbert Byard

Letter No.: 
VWL3404
May 20th 1956.

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

Dear Byard,
May we stop mistering and doctoring?  I am glad the symphony came through well.  I think the second performance was better, because I had dispensed with some of the “Hittites” in the last movement, which I think came out too strongly over the wireless.  I agree that the spiels and phones cannot play at tune, and for that reason I always double them with strings or other instruments.  Indeed, in the last movement I added the trumpet to the bells after hearing it at rehearsal.1
I am so sorry I cannot accept your delightful invitation to talk to you at Bristol, but as our old friend Cyril Rootham used to say, even as it is “I am not a composer, I’m a clerk” - and rightly or wrongly, I want to spend more time putting down black dots on bits of paper.
I had not heard of Stanton’s wife’s death: the few times we both met her my wife and I both liked her so much.2
I am so glad to have good news of Arnold Barter; what astonishing news of Rutland Boughton.3
Kind regards from us both,
yrs
R. Vaughan Williams


1. The Eighth Symphony had been first performed on 2 May at Manchester; its second performance followed on 14 May at the Royal Festival Hall. In his programme note VW said “Also there is a large supply of extra percussion, incluing all the 'phones and spiels known to the composer”.
2. Dr Walter Stanton was Professor of Music at Bristol from 1947 until 1958, and edited the BBC Hymn Book. See R.V.W.: a biography, p.314.
3. Boughton had abandoned the Communist Party on account of the Russian suppression of the Hungarian uprising. See R.V.W.: a biography, p.378.

Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
MS Mus. 1714/2/5, f.25

Location of copy:

Shelfmark of copy: 
MS Mus. 162, f.22
General notes: 

Typewritten, signed.

Format: 
Letter
Citation: 
Cobbe 680
Original database number: 
560520