Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Katharine Thomson

Letter No.: 
9th March, 1949

The White Gates,

Dear Mrs. Thomson1

Mrs. Wood and I got home safely after a really thrilling day on Sunday.
I thought, for a company mostly young and all, I believe, amateur, without stage, scenery, property, costumes or orchestra, to hold our attention rivetted for the whole afternoon, was a wonderful feat.2
Their vitality and enthusiasm was astonishing.
I was sorry not to have had the pleasure of meeting your husband again. I fully thought from what he said, he was coming with you. I should like so much to have made his further acquaintance.
I send a sheet of suggestions for you to pass on if you wish to Mr. Harrison3 or Professor Lewis4. There are very few of them and these are not really criticisms but only suggestions for still further improvement, but the Producer and Musical Director must decide, of course, whether they pay attention to them or not.
Yours sincerely

R. Vaughan Williams

Mrs. Thomson,
84, Oakfield Road,
Selly Park,


                       Sir John in Love

Act I p.1 opening scene up to letter 5 p.6 - I feel it might be quicker - it seemed to hang fire a bit.

p.3 last bar (shallow) more emphatic?

p.15 letter 9 - wd a shade faster be better?:

p.43 Allegro - I shd prefer this faster

p.45 (fig 29)      "      "       "

Act II p.114 fig 13 not too fast Maestoso!

p.121 ‘Ford’ was not quite distinct

p.126 (top) key words must be very distinct

p.150 (No 45) Fast!

P.157 49 Maestoso!


p.170 fig 4 not too fast

p.174 Here and in Act IV as deep a clock-bell as possible - never mind about the actual note (a gong might do)

p.218. 1 bar after 17 very deliberate!

Act IV

p.250 12 not too quick

p. 268 23 not too quick

p.293 36 Maestoso!

1.  Musical Director of the Clarion Singers
2.  A rehearsal for Sir John in Love to be performed by the Clarion Singers on 18 and 19 March at the Midland Institute, Birmingham. See R.V.W.: a biography, p.289.
3.  Tom Harrison, Regional Director of the Midlands Arts Council, who directed the performance.
4.  Anthony Lewis, Peyton and Barber Professor of Music at Birmingham 1947-68, who conducted most of the performances.

Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
Add. MS 71536, ff. 20-23

Location of copy:

Shelfmark of copy: 
MS Mus. 1714/1/18, f. 91
General notes: 

Typewritten letter, signed, and manuscript notes in enclosure.

Cobbe 514
Original database number: