Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Neville Cardus

Letter No.: 


I understand that a malicious rumour is going around Manchester that I had not scored it myself. The answer to this is obvious - that if Roy Douglas had scored it it would have sounded a great deal better. I can ignore these malicious tongues; but still, in case the matter does crop up again, I should like to tell you what Roy Douglas actually did do, for which I am very grateful to him: firstly he made a beautiful copy of the score (my writing is very bad) and in making the copy he discovered a lot of careless errors on my part (I am incorrigibly careless). For example, sometimes the oboe doubles the violin and when the end of the phrase goes over the page, I forget to complete the oboe part, and various small things like that.
And there were obvious mistakes which I had made - wrong notes, and so on. These he corrected for me. He also made valuable suggestions as to the pianoforte and celesta parts. I am no pianist and he showed me ways of getting the same effect in a much more pianistic way. In one place he advised me to alter the passage because it reminded him of Elgar's In the South; but in no case did he make an alteration without consulting me first. We had long talks and letters over the whole matter. Sometimes I accepted his amendments and sometimes I did not. As I say, I am prepared to ignore all these idle tongues, but if the matter does crop up again I owe it to Mr Douglas to explain what happened. He earns his living by orchestration and I should not like him to be blamed for my shortcomings.


General notes: 

In Kennedy, Works of Vaughan Williams (Oxford University Press, 1964) quoted in Douglas, Working with Vaughan Williams, p.47-48.

Kennedy, Works of Vaughan Williams