Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Gustav Holst

Letter No.: 
[October 1899]

19 Second Avenue

Dear V.H.

Thanks so much for your letter - your left hand  is most admirable1 - but does it mean that your hand is still bad - you never said anything about it - this is very wrong of you - I feel pretty stupid today because though it is the sabbath I have been scoring my Mass2 all day (it is now 4.30) I am approaching the end of the Credo -
Having now been to sleep for 10 minutes I can continue
Did I ever tell you of my final talk with Stanford in which we agreed that if I added a short movement in E major in the middle & altered the Coda the thing might stand - I had already got an extra movement in E major which I had cut out!
Walküre does sound fine on a Brass band doesn't it.  I used to hear a German brass band do it at one of the Earls Court exhibitions.  When do you come back to London - mind you come to see us directly you get back.  I am probably going to take my mother to Birdlip next week.3 I wonder if you will be at Cheltenham by any chance, I think I shall come over and see (if I have an opportunity) whether you are there - also if I can remember where you live.  Have you been writing anything or is your hand t[oo] bad - why not try looking glass music?

This took me ¼ hour!4

Have you expedited round Lincolnshire at all - but I expect you just want to sit still between your shows.5  I am sorry for your [being] stuck up in that God-forsaken place, can't you get a bandmaster's place somewhere  wouldn't that be good - you ought to be able to get one easily after all your experience
I think H.J.6  must have gone abroad by now - he was going some time soon I know.
Well it will be good when we all meet again in London.
I always thought that working hard in London was bad enough but working hard when your7 on a nominal holiday is the devil.


I will give you 2d if you can play this on the trombone

1. Holst suffered from neuritis in his right arm.
2. The work which VW submitted for his Doctorate at Cambridge, Catalogue of Works 1899/F.
3. Possibly to stay in the George Hotel, which he recommends to G.E. Moore in VWL108.
4. The music is Wagner’s ‘Siegfried’ motif as found in his Funeral March (Götterdammerung Act 3) written backwards.
5. Holst was playing the trombone in the orchestra of the Carl Rosa Opera Company.
6. Michael Kennedy thinks this is Evlyn Howard Jones, who was due to go and study with Eugen d’Albert in Berlin.
7. sic.

Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
MS Mus. 158, ff. 2-5
General notes: 

This letter is dated 1897 in Heirs and Rebels but was clearly written after his and Adeline's return from Germany at a time he was completing his Mass for the Cambridge Mus. Doc. examination, which he sat in 1899.

Cobbe 21; Heirs and Rebels, Letter I
Original database number: