Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Harold Child

Letter No.: 
VWL4950
[Autumn 1913]

Hotel Suisse,
Ospedaletti-Ligure,
Riviera,
Italy.
(via Marseilles)

Dear Child
Those last two were splendid - specially John's.  With regard to 'Joy O Joy' I find that it makes rather a gabble with so many syllables after all.  Do you mind it running

Joy, Oh! Joy, I've fought for you and won you -
Joy, Oh! Joy, and you are free,
Love has blessed us, love has joined us
Me to you and you to me.

-But if that spoils it, the other could be put back.
Now for the next 2 (or rather 3) jobs.

1.  Act II middle of duet, this is a rather difficult place, but I have not been satisfied with the run of the thing after 'Love has set me free' - it seems as if it was going to swing on to the end, and then prove only to be a false start. - I think the fault was partly in the words (and I think you agreed with me) because Hugh starts saying 'Ah! no', and I don't quite like Mary, after saying she is free, announcing herself as a slave - now I think that a very small alteration (with a certain amount of repetition of words) wd. do the trick and enable me to make the music go along.
The words at present stand thus - and I have put in brackets the ones which I think require amending.  But if you don't like the idea I can manage with it as it stands - and a very close relation of words and music perhaps will not matter.
Mary.  Love that has set me free
I hear your call.
Nothing though it be
Oh! take my all.
Master of my poor heart
Take all I have
(Mine the blessed part
To be your slave.)

If you like them to alternate line by line - or Hugh to come in earlier I cd. manage it - but just as you like about that.  A slight alteration with bracketed lines will do the trick for me all right.

Hugh.  (No! No! in love no slaves no masters)
Love is free
Then come my friend and lover, come with me.
Together.  The sky shall be - etc.

2.  Act II.  After discovery of Mary in the stocks - you will remember that I can cut a long speeh of Mary's previous to 'here on my throne', but something is wanted here; partly to take the place of Mary's (cut) explanation and partly to continue the musical ensemble which now starts at 'Where's she gone to, where's my daughter'.  I have patched up little bits of you with bits or me in the form of a quick dialogue which runs as follows, - you will see it is very bad, but perhaps you cd. do something better without too much upsetting my musical scheme, (you will see that there is no lyrical element in the voice parts - so there need be no syllabic correspondence between what I have written and what you will write - only we want short sentences).

(Mary throws off her cloak)
John  Mary!
Aunt Jane My child.
Constable My daughter,
Turnkey. Mary!  Good God.
Chorus.  Mary.
Constable (going up to Mary). My daughter in the stocks 'fore all the town?
Mary (quietly) Yes father!
Constable How did you get here, Miss?
Mary  Of my own will.
Constable Would you defy me?
Mary  Here I outface you and flaunt my pride,
         Here in the stocks by this stranger's side.
Aunt Jane (to Mary) Come away, come away.
Constable Here, unlock her, (fumbling) where are the keys?
Turnkey (fumbling)  The keys!
Aunt Jane The keys?
Constable Where are my keys?
Mary  They're here!
(all)  The keys
Mary  Take them and set us free.
Chorus  Set them free, set them free.
Constable  Here, let her out,
                But guard the spy my lads, stand well about.
                (Mary is released, he seizes her by the arm)
Chorus  Let her be, let her be.
Constable Come hussy!
Mary  Alone! no, no, (a struggle, she escapes & runs back to Hugh)
        Here on my throne, I sit beside my king -
Chorus  The girls gone mad etc
Mary  Here on my throne where honour holds his place etc

I enclose a sketch for the music of this.

3.  Act II.  In 2nd verse of Mary's song 'see now the May' you have the line -
 'No more a pool now, but a wave of the sea'

This refers to a remark about a pool earlier on, which we have cut - should we alter it?

Act II (right at the end)
I want two lines for Hugh and Mary to sing off stage after they have gone off.
- It doesn't really matter what it is because the words will not be heard.
At present I have put
 'Now you are mine, mine at last beloved for ever.'
but you will think of something better than this kind of slush.
(The music is the same as in Act I where Hugh says
 'You are mine and here in Heaven's light I hold you.')

That I believe is all.  There are several other places where I have altered or cut and added, but you will be able to improve on my colloquialisms and banalities when you have the whole to revise.
1000 thanks
Yr. R.V.W.

Subjects:

Location of copy:

Shelfmark of copy: 
MS Mus. 1714/2/4, ff.70-74
Format: 
Letter
Citation: 
R.V.W.: a biography, pp.417-419