Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Edward J. Dent

Letter No.: 
July 1 [1926]

13 Cheyne Walk

Dear Dent

May I ask you for some advice? A composition pupil of mine at the R.C.M.1 whom I consider very gifted is anxious to go abroad and study music, especially composition, for 6 months, or possibly longer.
I also think it would be very good for her. Who do you consider the best composition teacher in Europe at present? And which centre do you consider the best for a young student to receive a “finishing” musical education and generally to improve their musical culture. I expect you will say that the two queries are incompatible, in which case we shall have to make a compromise.
Miss Maconchy2 is just 19 - plays the piano quite well and has had a thorough grounding at the hands of Kitson and Charles Wood. She has - as I say - in my opinion decided inventive powers but is of course at present like all young people going through a new phase every month. At present she has been badly bitten by Bartok and is of course anxious to study with him, but I rather doubt the wisdom of this.
I feel possibly that Respighi or Casella might be good for her - if they ever take pupils. On the other hand neither Rome nor Buda-Pesth would I imagine be good from the point of view of general musical atmosphere and the hearing of plenty of good music etc. Also of course we must consider a place where we could find a nice family for her to live with and so on.
Are Leipzig or Dresden any good nowadays? Prague has been suggested to me - what do you think of that? or I thought of sending her to Ravel but I doubt if he would take any pupils now.
I should be most grateful for your advice. I hope I am not asking too much but I feel I have a certain claim on you in your professorial capacity3 though I am no longer an undergraduate of your university.

R. Vaughan Williams

1. Royal College of Music
2. Elizabeth Maconchy studied at the Royal College of Music 1923-29 and in fact went to Prague to study with Jirák, though it is not known if this was because of advice from Dent.
3. Dent had been appointed Professor of Music at Cambridge in 1926, having been strongly urged by VW to apply for the post in 1924 following Sir Charles Stanford's death (see VWL557 and VWL788).

Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
Dent Archive 1926-27.10,11
General notes: 

In the hand of AVW signed by VW.
Date from Cobbe, p.4 and p.160.

Cobbe 167
Original database number: