Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Grace Williams

Letter No.: 

The White Gates,
Westcott Road,

Dearest Grace
Didn't I say anything about No 3. That's because I liked it  - I only told you the things I didn't like - not the things I did - also don't alter any of it.
I'm bored with all this 'reminiscence' hunting - there are people who will say that if you use the rhythm  you are cribbing the Hallelujah Chorus - any way what are we old people but a disused quarry where you only of use for the young people to find a nugget or two occasionally which they can cut & polish & set and make into a good thing - I shall be proud if, for me, if I can be of use in that way - any how what about
Prelude - Tristan = opening bars of Liszt's Lorelei
Beethoven Mass in D = Cherubini Mass in D minor
Wagner Lohengrin = Weber Euryanthe
etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc
Love from Uncle Ralph

P.S. You know about the "communal authorship" theory of folk-song  i.e. that 100s of years ago someone sang a tune which is passed on from generation to generation developing & changing according to the needs of each generation - always the same yet always different
I believe it is the same with all music  there are a certain number of root ideas which each composer transforms & develops & modifies & if he is a great man transcendentalizes for his own use
P.P.S. I heard Bax No 31 for the 5th time yesterday - superb I think
I forget whether you like it

I left this last page out!!!

1. Arnold Bax Symphony no.3, composed in 1929, first performed in 1930.

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