Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Michael Kennedy

Letter No.: 
November 26th 1957.

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

Dear Michael,

I am so sorry about Eslyn, I will not say more because I know Ursula is writing to you about that.  I am ridiculously well except for this absurd leg: as a matter of fact there are one or two things I was glad to be able to miss … on the other hand, I have had to refuse an invitation to judge at a beauty competition (R.A.M. Students!) which is sad.1
Most of Stravinsky bores me.  I wish he even shocked me: especially the Rite of Spring.  I do not think the scoring is masterly at all, he always makes a nasty sour sound with his orchestra; but I do like Symphony of Psalms, Les Noces, and the Suite for Violin and Pianoforte, of which I once heard a record under very peculiar circumstances, of which I will tell you one day.2
Having “released” the new symphony3 I am proceeding to rewrite it!  I shall then pass it on to Roy4 to “copy”.  I do not know if the last stage of that symphony will be worse than the first.
We are going to hear Bartok’s Bluebeard – all being well – on Friday, if the Doctor will let me.  I once heard it broadcast, and disliked it extremely, but of course that is not a fair test of a stage work.5


1.  VW had had an attack of phlebitis.
2.  According to MK, “a night-train-journey acquaintance invited him to hear this record, and others, in the early hours of the morning before RVW caught the first train to Dorking.” (See WVW p.390).
3.  The Ninth Symphony (CW 1957/4).
4.  Roy Douglas, VW’s assistant and copyist.
5.  According to MK, he liked it very much after seeing it performed on stage.
6.  This letter reprinted in part in MK, WVW, 389-90.

Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
MS Mus. 159, ff.199-200
Original database number: