Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to the Editor of the Morning Post

Letter No.: 
[1 December, 1903]

10 Barton-street

All lovers of music must have been interested in the report in the Morning Post of the 27th ult. of Mr. C.J. Sharp's lecture on folk-song.  Everyone who has had the opportunity of hearing the genuine traditional music of England must have come to the conclusion that it is quite as beautiful as that of any other nation.  In France, as Mr. Sharp pointed out, the work of collecting and preserving traditional tunes has been undertaken by the Government: why should the folk-songs of England be left to the casual attention of a few enthusiastic collectors?  I understand that some of our County Councils are undertaking the preservation of ancient buildings; our national songs are at least equally worth preserving and recording, not only as interesting relics but as beautiful works of art.  Is it too much to hope that among our county councillors there are one or two song-lovers who would endeavour to act on Mr. Sharp's splendid suggesting that the Country Councils should undertake the work of collecting and committing to writing these fast disappearing traditional songs?  The work need not entail much expense, it only needs organisation: the priceless treasures which have been unearthed during the last fifty years by collectors should encourage us to continue the search, and it is the opinion of these collectors that there must be countless rich veins of folk-song still entirely unexplored.  Whatever is done must be done quickly.  Every day some old village singer dies, and with him there probably die half-a-dozen beautiful melodies, which are lost to the world for ever: if we would preserve what still remains we must set about it at once.
Yours, &c.,

Ralph Vaughan Williams


General notes: 

Printed in The Morning Times newspaper, 2 December, 1903, headed "The Preservation of Folk Song".

The Morning Post (no.41, 032), 2 December, 1903, p.3.