Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to René Gatty

Letter No.: 
4th May 1898

16 North St

Dear Herr Gattoy1

I haven’t written to you for an age, so now I will begin by saying that I heard from Nicholas2 the other day. Meine Frau lasst dich herzlich für deine colossal-schöne Briefe Danken - there that’s just to show that I haven’t forgotten my German(?).
Let me congratulate you on being a Stud: Phil:3  but you might have told us what sort of lectures you go to? What sort of music has been going on & what have you been to? We’ve been to very little here - one Sunday afternoon - rather poor performance - Schumann 2nd symphony & Tchaikowski ‘casse noisette’ suite.
Have you seen anything of the Schratt4 or Bruch? And also if you see or hear anything of an English Musiker called Hulton tell me. I am sending you an account of the battle of Atbara5 which is rather good. The Spanish war is pretty dull stuff with no fighting. Spain does want a few unmediaeval ideas shoved into her badly. Talking of America have you read “The Portrait of a Lady” by Henry James - there [are] whole chunks of detatched Schein6 in it.
How odd to think of you still pacing the Podzdamer7 Platz and exclaiming “Donnerwetter ein reizendes gesicht”8 as some schönes Mädchen passes you - or going on to Schultheiss9 and saying ‘Ha - Champagner’. I am also sending you some German stamps which we have found.
Yours always

Ralph Vaughan Williams

1. sic
2. René Gatty's brother.
3. Studiosus Philosophiae, i.e. a student of Philosophy.
4. Leo Schrattenholz, born in London, was at this time a student in the Königliche Hochschule für Musik in Berlin.
5. The Battle of Atbara took place on April 8, 1898, during the Second Sudan War.
6. sic. The reference is probably a private joke. In a letter to Gatty from Dresden Adeline VW adds a PS: “I hope you will admire the envelope that Weber [they were staying at the Hotel Weber] provides us with. Is there any detachment of the Schein about it?”
7. i.e. Potsdamer
8. 'By Jove, what a charming face'.
9. Schultheiss is an old and well-known brewery company in Berlin, which owned a chain of bars and restaurants.


Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
MS 135

Location of copy:

Shelfmark of copy: 
MS Mus. 1714/1/1, ff.144-147
General notes: 

Date given is that of receipt in Berlin.

Cobbe 15; R.V.W.: a biography, p.54
Original database number: