Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Sir Alexander Kaye-Butterworth

Letter No.: 
VWL425
Monday [4th?] Sept [1916]

Dear Sir Alexander

Thank you very much for your kind letter - I felt quite overwhelmed that George should have left what amounts to nearly all his compositions to me - I feel it a great responsibility but one that I would not be without for anything.1
As regards publication - one would like to publish the whole of that all too small list as a permanent memorial to him - but this is probably impracticable - If a selection is to be made I should suggest the “Shropshire Lad” Rapsody2 the “Banks of Green Willow” and the beautiful Henley songs.3
The music would all need to be carefully revised and edited (not of course with a view to any alteration but to correct the inevitable errors which occur in the m.s. of all pieces) - This I should want to have the privilege of doing myself - but I feel you may wish to have the music published soon and there is no knowing when I shall be back in England and able to undertake the revision. The only other man to whom I could imagine the work being entrusted is Allen4 - it wd  be a great disappointment to me not to do it - but failing that it wd be great satisfaction to me, and I imagine to you, for it to be undertaken by such a wonderful musician and one who loved George and knew and honoured his music so well.
Yours sincerely

R. Vaughan Williams


1. George Butterworth had been killed in action; VW is writing to his father. See VWL424.
2. sic.
3. The Henley songs were settings of poems by W.C. Henley; Love blows as the wind blows.
3. Hugh Allen, a contemporary of VW at Cambridge. At this time he was Choragus at Oxford, and conductor of the London Bach Choir, but in 1918 he became Professor of Music at Oxford  and succeeded Hubert Parry  as Director of the Royal College of Music.  VW was at this time in France on active service as a medical orderly in the war.

Subjects:

Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
MS Eng Misc c 453 ff. 58-59
Format: 
Letter
Citation: 
Cobbe 99
Original database number: 
160904