Letter from Alan Bush to Ralph Vaughan Williams

Letter No.: 
12th April, 1939

Dear Dr. Vaughan Williams,
The Committee of the Festival of Music for the People wishes to convey its warmest thanks for your valued contribution with which you honoured this event.

In this Festival we tried to show how music served the people's cause from the beginning of European history, and how it was enriched and revitalised in so doing.  The men and women who fought the battle of progress in those days gone by were at the same time the singers of the songs which portrayed their sufferings and inspired their struggles.

Is it not natural then, for the men and women of today, who are active in the fight for freedom and the betterment of mankind to be in the forefront also in providing the only sound basis of the further development of music?  Without this basis music would inevitably become, on the one hand, a specialist's hobby, and on the other a mere means of profit to the magnates of commercial entertainment.

The Festival, in which over one thousand people took part, was witnessed by about ten times that number.  It enlisted the talents of fourteen British and two Austrian composers.  It inspired the composition by Benjamin Britten of his splendid BALLAD OF HEROES, dedicated to the men of the British Battalion of the International Brigade who fell in Spain.  It enjoyed the services of many of the leading professional singers and instrumentalists of this country, as well as of Paul Robeson, who represents so convincingly in his person the voice of the oppressed classes and their demands for that freedom which cannot righteously be withheld.

Would you let us know what you wish us to do with the score and parts of your fanfare?

Again thanking you,
Yours very sincerely


Dr. Vaughan Williams, O.M., Mus. Doc.
White Gates,
Westcott Road,
Dorking, Surrey.

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