Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Professor H.G. Fiedler

Letter No.: 
June 25 [1939]

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

Dear Professor

Can you help me with a literary problem?
I remember being told some years ago that when Schiller wrote his Ode “An die Freude” (9th Symphony) he intended originally to put “Freiheit” but the “Freedom” being in Germany as unpopular then as it appears to be now he was obliged to alter it to “Freude”.
Can you tell me anything about this and/or could you tell me of any books which I could consult?
If we could prove it it would make the English version much easier since ‘Freedom’ is two syllables like ‘Freiheit’ and ‘Joy’ is only one syllable - Also an ode to Freedom would be something much more inspiring than an ode to Joy - 1
My love to Herma

R. Vaughan Williams

Have you any news of Masefield?2

1. VW was preparing a performance of the symphony at the Leith Hill Musical Festival, which did not take place because of the outbreak of war. VW makes no mention of the 'Freiheit' possibility in the essay he wrote on the symphony later in the year, published in Some thoughts on Beethoven's Choral Symphony with writings on other subjects (London 1953).
2. John Masefield was awarded the Shakespeare Prize in Hamburg in 1938, the year after VW.


Location of copy:

Shelfmark of copy: 
MS Mus. 1714/1/12, ff. 75-76
General notes: 

Signature and postscript in the hand of VW.

Cobbe 314; R.V.W.: a biography, p.226
Original database number: