Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Christian Darnton

Letter No.: 
Feb 8 [1936]

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

Dear Mr. Darnton

I should like to tell you that I was impressed by your Viola Concerto last night – My ideas of beauty are still too old fashioned for me to be able to call it beautiful but I felt that you had mastered your harmonic medium in a way which I had not always felt in your earlier work and, though, as I say, I cannot bring myself to call it beautiful I felt that it was often deeply expressive. You – unlike so may other modernists, know how and when to use the common chord. In so many cases the common chord seems dragged in for propriety’s sake and appears in those cases to be the worst ‘wrong note’ of the lot.
 Do you happen to have met a pupil of mine Wrayburn Glasspool? He is at present experimenting with ‘wrong notes’, but is I think still in a very experimental stage and his music is so alien to anything I understand that I find it almost impossible to judge whether it is good or bad. If you happen to meet him it would be very kind of you to ask him to show you some of his work as I feel some criticism from you might be very useful to him.
Yours sincerely

R Vaughan Williams


Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
Add MS 62763, ff. 283-284
General notes: 

Year from Concert Programmes database – possibly 1936, although RVW writes ‘last night’ and dates his letter Feb 8th.  “Also held is a separate programme for the last of these concerts (6 February 1936), which included the first performances of: Gerald Finzi, Four Songs; Alan Rawsthorne, Overture for Chamber Orchestra; and Christian Darnton, Concerto for Viola and String Orchestra.”

Original database number: