Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Grace Williams

Letter No.: 
VWL3883
[August 1931]

The White Gates,
Westcott Road,
Dorking.

Dearest Grace
I agree with the great uncle "carry on".
I felt very proud to think you had been my pupil when I heard "Hen Walia" over the wireless1 - such a fine touch it seems to me (though God knows I never gave you that - you got from Gordon Jacob & Wellesz & yourself) - The only places from point of view of texture I was doubtful about were one or two rather weak passages for Trpts & Horns - which wanted a lot more rehearsal & then I believe wd have come off.
But it is first a question whether such passages are worthwhile - & perhaps inexperience told a little here (But this refers to about 6 bars all told at the most - the rest seemed to me brilliant and sure)
There are 2 methods of successful scoring (1) The Elgar way which will sound brilliant & sure after one rehearsal with an English Orchestra
(2) The foreign way which will sound brilliant & sure after 25 rehearsals with a German Orchestra - This latter is actually the ... & where you have in some places arrived at - But it might be worthwhile to practice no. (1) because you can always go on to the other from it.
Dear Grace - I consider you had a great success - after all if you have anything individual to say you have to learn & find out your own way of saying it - & no one can help you - I say this from 40 years experience.
The only places I was a little doubtful about was (1) a certain weakness of harmony occasionally - which I imagine is the influence of Wellesz & I don't think is native to you (2) After "Suo gan" the key seemed to hang fire a little bit & stop & start again too often - I daresay one or two bars out wd put this all right.
God Bless Willy Reed. I hope you gave him a kiss - he deserved one.
I enclose the Times in case you've not seen it.
I must see you before you go off to Vienna - Let me know when you come to London.
Love from
Uncle Ralph


1. The broadcast performance of Hen Walia by the London Symphony Orchestra took place at the Bangor Eistedfodd on 6 August 1931.

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