Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Edward J. Dent

Letter No.: 
[September 1914]

13 Cheyne Walk

Dear Dent

I am so much touched by your offer - but I really don't know if I should accept - why shd you spoil your holiday - I do feel inclined to accept in fact - if the performance for the beginning of November in Edinburgh is not put off.1
Would you do a bit of it? The difficulty is there is only one set of wind parts. Would you, say, copy in the string parts of the slow movement - I cd send you a set of string parts &  plenty of music paper & a very complete small score by Toye2 which wd guide you as to how to space it out.
If you really do offer to do this you would be doing a great service not only to me but to a young musician called Coles3 who was to have copied the score - He wanted to enlist (home service) & being married didn't know if he could so Von Holst & I have arranged to keep his job warm & I have advanced him the money he wd have made over my score - he to take it out in other copying later - less any of the score which you did. I should, with your leave, consider written off his debt to me.
But really ought you to do it? I can't express how much I feel your even offering to do it.

R. Vaughan Williams

1. This refers to the collaborative reconstruction of  the score of the London Symphony, Catalogue of Works 1913/5, from the orchestral parts by VW aided by a group of friends (Edward Dent, Denis Browne, and George Butterworth. The original score had been sent to Germany either to Fritz Busch to consider for performance (as VW told Michael Kennedy) or to Breitkopf & Härtel to consider for publication, since they had already published Willow Wood, Toward the Unknown Region, and A Sea Symphony (as VW told UVW), and was now considered irretrievable. See VWL409, VWL349 and VWL350, and R.V.W.: a biography, p.113-114. The reconstructed manuscript score is now in the British Library The performance in Edinburgh which created the need for a new full score was given by the Scottish Orchestra conducted by the composer in the Usher Hall on 30 Nov 1914. This performance is not noted in Lloyd, 'A London Symphony: Early Versions'.
2. Geoffrey Toye who had conducted the first performance of the London Symphony on 27 March 1914 at the Queen's Hall.
3. Cecil Coles, a young Scottish composer and friend of Gustav Holst, was killed while serving with the Queen Victoria's Rifles in 1918.

Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
MS Add.7973, V/2
Cobbe 86
Original database number: