Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams and others to Edward Elgar

Letter No.: 
VWL940
[9th September 1931]

Millers Green,
Gloucester

Dear Sir Edward Elgar

You said last night that owing to the badness of the Woolworth pencils you could no longer write music. We all want that new symphony & the 3rd part of The Apostles.
Will these pencils of varying softness help?
Yrs affectionately

R. Vaughan Williams
W.H. Reed1
R.O. Morris
Alice Sumsion
Emmeline Morris
E. Reed2
J. Bailey3
Herbert Sumsion


1. The violinist William H. ('Billy') Reed.
2. Evelyn Reed, W.H. Reed’s wife.
3. It is tempting to believe that this was in fact I [i.e. Isobel] Baillie (who was certainly present at this festival) – but the original signature is not in her hand and reads quite clearly J. Bailey, who has not been identified.

Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
Letter 9412

Location of copy:

Shelfmark of copy: 
MS Mus. 1714/1/8, f.5
General notes: 

Sent from No.7, Millers Green, the organist's house at Gloucester Cathedral, where Herbert ("John") Sumsion had succeeded Herbert Brewer in 1928.
Date suggested by Jerrold Northrop Moore, Letters of a lifetime, p.440 where this letter is printed. Although  the third Symphony was not commissioned by the BBC until December 1932, there had been pressure on Elgar to write it, notably from George Bernard Shaw, for some time before. This letter was written during the 1931 Three Choirs Festival at Gloucester, where both Shaw and Elgar were present:  Elgar conducted Gerontius, the Violin Concerto and Nursery Suite; VW was there to conduct Job and The Lark Ascending (On Wenlock Edge was also given); while the Morris’s were there for the first performance of R.O Morris’s Sinfonia in C major. Elgar had clearly been urged by those present the previous evening to complete the projected works and had made excuses!
  This letter is discussed in Hugh Cobbe ‘“My dear Elgar”: The letters of Elgar and Vaughan Williams’, A special flame: Elgar and Vaughan Williams (Elgar Editions, Rickmansworth, 2004).

Format: 
Letter
Citation: 
Cobbe 201; Jerrold Northrop Moore ed., Edward Elgar: Letters of a lifetime, p.440.
Original database number: 
310909