Letter from Adrian Boult to Ralph Vaughan Williams

Letter No.: 
14th February 1944

The British Broadcasting Corporation
Box No.7, G.P.O., Bedford.

Dear Ralph

I happened to be writing to Sibelius and without your permission I sent him the wording of your dedication.1 It was all done through Kurt Atterberg in Stockholm, and here is a copy of Sibelius’ answer, which has just come through the same channel.

“Järvenpää, 5th January 1944

Kurt Atterberg, Esq.,

Dear Atterberg,

Please accept my sincere thanks for your kind letter of the 29th December, and for your good wishes for the New Year. I wish you too a happy and prosperous New Year.
What Sir Adrian Boult and you said about my Fifth Symphony has been a source of profound pleasure to me, and I echo Sir Adrian’s words about the year 1944 with all my heart.
I heard Dr. Vaughan Williams’ new Symphony from Stockholm under the excellent leadership of Malcolm Sargent. This symphony is a marvellous work. Everything in it is alive -  to use the poet’s words. I learnt from our newspapers of the dedication, which made me feel proud and deeply grateful. I wonder if Dr. Williams has any idea of the pleasure he has given me? The wording of the dedication was not printed in our newspapers, so I did not know until you told me. I think your criticism, which was also published in a mutilated form in our papers, is true and to the point. I should be very grateful to you if you would convey cordial greetings from me to Sir Adrian Boult and through him to Dr Vaughan Williams.2
With kind regards and best wishes,
yours gratefully and sincerely,

Jean Sibelius”

Do not bother to acknowledge


R. Vaughan Williams, Esq., O.M., Mus. Doc.,
The White Gates,
Westcott Road,


1. VW had dedicated his fifth symphony to Sibelius.
2. Sibelius eventually wrote directly to VW on June 18th 1946 - see VWL2042.

Music and Friends, pp.143-144
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