Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Harriet Cohen

Letter No.: 
Aug 24 [1946]

The White Gates,

Dear Harriet

I am sorry you feel cross about the concerto - But, you know, you had it all to yourself, I think, for a year - most people for whom I have written things are content willing with a first performance - & then are willing to have it thrown open.1  Since that time many other pianists have played it (including Cyril Smith himself) - & you know you cd not have played it by yourself on 2 pftes (one hand on each?) any more than if I had arranged it for organ or ukelele.
At the time of the first performance many people urged me to rearrange it for 2 pftes - they thought it to[o] large heavy going for one - But I held on so as to give the 1 pfte a good send off before I did anything.
Have a good time in U.S.A. and bring back plenty of dollars - I am so glad about the recording of the Gibbons - I shall probably rearrange that for 4 bass tubas & a banjo.
Love from


1.  On the question of Harriet Cohen’s exclusive use of the concerto, see VWL1262.

Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
MS Mus. 1648, ff. 42-44
General notes: 

Presumably written at about the time that the first performance of the two-piano version of the concerto by Cyril Smith and Phyllis Sellick, on 22 November 1946, was announced.

Cobbe 461; Kennedy, Works of Vaughan Williams, p.292.
Original database number: