Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Grace Williams

Letter No.: 
VWL3879
[1931]

The White Gates,
Westcott Road,
Dorking.

Dear Grace
I've been through Hen1 - I like your tunes v. much - I should have liked "Suo Gân" all through again richly scored a le Tschaikowsky2 -  but I've got a vulgar mind. I like the form of the whole thing & its directness. I've queried the scoring in one [or] 2 places -
Now what shall I do with it - I shan't be going to RCM3 again till May - shall I send in to Jacob4 or will you come down here & fetch it one day when you come to London?
I like the 3 songs very much especially the last (which I knew).5 If you do 12th night add a lot of lyrics (go through your Bullen6 very carefully - & look at my libretto for Sir John7 which I am so proud of - all that I am proud of in that work) & remember that an opera must have songs & ensembles 
I shall try for Cardiff on the 12th - but I fear I shan't get it
We shall meet soon
Love from
Uncle Ralph


1. Hen Walia, overture originally planned for an opera which was never realised.
2. sic.
3. Royal College of Music
4. Gordon Jacob, who also taught Williams at the Royal College of Music
5. Three songs for mezzo-soprano and large orchestra ("Service Of All The Dead", "Tarantella" and "Tuscany") were completed in 1930.
6. A.H. Bullen published an edition of the works of Shakespeare in 1904, and other collections including Shakespeare's sonnets in 1921. Williams was planning to write an opera.
7. VW's opera Sir John in Love.

Location of original letter:

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General notes: 

Hen Walia first performed in August 1931. This letter presumably written  after Williams had returned from Vienna in 1931, and before the first performance.

Format: 
Letter