Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Frank Howes

Letter No.: 
February 12 [1937]

From R. Vaughan Williams,
The White Gates,
Westcott Road,

Dear Howes
In answer to your questions - (N.B. the dates given below are very much guesswork)

P.K1 composed 1927-8. Then it was put away & shown to Foss probably 1934 when additional numbers were added and some scrapped.
Riders2 sketch started 1926 and finished probably early 1927. When it was orchestrated I cannot remember but I think straight after sketching.
Dona Nobis Complete sketch for 'Dirge' and a few notes for "Beat drums" and 'Reconciliation' belong to about 1911. The rest was all written in the autumn 1935 & scored in the summer 1936.
The true story about Elgar me & Skelton is as follows:- About four years ago at the 3 Choirs Festival I ran into Elgar walking with his friend Colonel Isaac. Isaac said "I've got a poem here that would suit you to set" and showed me a book of Skelton's poems and pointed out one to me (not one of those I set). Then if I remember right Elgar took hold of the book & showed me some verses from 'Elinor' and said that he had lately given a lecture on Skelton and had pointed out that the metre was pure jazz - then I believe he said 'I must make an oratorio out of Elinor Rumming' and I, I believe I said 'I wish you would' - At all events I do wish he had.
I had previously known only the few Skeltons that appear in anthologies and the bit of Philip Sparrow that comes in the Weekend book which had always attracted me.
After the interview with Elgar I got a complete Skelton (very complete) with the awful results you know.
Now I hate bothering you with my personal affairs but I am rather excited by the fact that Coates3 is going to do a tune of mine (In the fen country) which I wrote over 30 years ago and which had one performance I think about 1909 & which I rather liked at the time - I shall be interested to find out if I can bear it now.
R Vaughan Williams

1. The Poisoned Kiss
2. Riders to the Sea
3. Albert Coates, conductor.

Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
Deposit 2009/21, Box 1
General notes: 

In the hand of AVW, signed by VW.