Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Michael Kennedy

Letter No.: 
March 29th 1956.

From R. Vaughan Williams,
10, Hanover Terrace,
Regents Park,
London, N.W.1.

Dear Michael

I am so glad you were able to listen to Dona.1 I only listened in2 and it did not seem to me a very good performance.  Several of the tempi were wrong.  As far as I could judge on the first hearing the Rubbra was very good.3 But, as the man said “you should never hear Brahms for the first time.” And this I think applies everywhere.  I certainly want to hear it again.
Our love to Eslyn.
I am so sorry to hear about old Russell: I liked the little I knew of him very much.4
P. K. on the 27th.5
More love to Eslyn.


1. Dona Nobis Pacem (Catalogue of Works 1936/5).
2. i.e. on the radio.
3. If this was a first performance the Rubbra work might have been either the Piano Concerto or the Cantata Pastorale, both of 1956. [neither on BBC genome site]
4. John F. Russell, Librarian of the Henry Watson Music Library, Manchester whom Michael Kennedy had introduced to VW. He wrote programme notes for Hallé concerts (e.g. mentioned in VWL2551 as doing the programme for the Hallé concert of Sinfonia Antartica); see also.  He had just died.
5. The Poisoned Kiss (Catalogue of Works 1936/4) was being performed at the Cheltenham Grammar School in April, conducted by William Neve.

Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
MS Mus. 159, f.114
General notes: 

Typewritten, signed. This letter printed in part in Michael Kennedy, Works of Vaughan Williams, pp.384-5.

Kennedy, Works of Vaughan Williams, pp.384-5
Original database number: