Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Gustav Holst

Letter No.: 
VWL589
[About 1st November 1925]

Dear Gustav

I feel I want to write & put down (chiefly for my own benefit) why I felt vaguely dissappointed after the Phil (so you need not read this.)  Not perhaps dissappointed1  - I felt cold admiration - but did not want to get up & embrace everyone & then get drunk like I did after the H of J.2   I think it is only because it is a new work & I am more slowly moving than I used to be & it's got to soak in.3
But first I want to set down the bits where I was all there, viz.
The opening (a great surprize to me)
Dorothy’s4 first solo,
The orchestral end of the scherzo
The two lovely tunes in the Finale

Then again I've come to the conclusion that the Leeds Chorus CANNOT SING - the Bacchus Chorus sounded like an Oratorio.
As to the Grecian Urn it was pattered not sung - No phrasing & no legato. If only the B.C.5 cd sing in tune or Morley had any tenors we cd show them how to do it.
In the scherzo they made the words sound so common.
I couldn't bear to think that I was going to “drift apart” from you musically speaking.  (If I do, who shall I have to crib from) - & I don't believe it is so - so I shall live in faith till I have heard it again several times & then I shall find out what a bloody fool I was not to see it all first time.
Forgive me this rigmarole - but I wanted to get it off my chest.
Yrs
RVW


1. sic.
2. i.e. The Hymn of Jesus.
3. VW had been to the second performance of Holst's First Choral Symphony at the Queen's Hall on 29th October given at a Royal Philharmonic Society concert by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Albert Coates. On the critical reception of the Choral Symphony see Michael Short, Gustav Holst, the man and his music, p.237-241.
4. Dorothy Silk, the soprano soloist.
5. The Bach Choir of which VW had become Musical Director in 1921.

Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
MS Mus. 158, ff.75-78
General notes: 

 Holst replied to this on 11 November (Heirs and Rebels Letter XXVI, p.61).

Format: 
Letter
Citation: 
Cobbe 154; Heirs and Rebels, Letter XXV
Original database number: 
251101