Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Adrian Boult

Letter No.: 
Sunday [24 February 1918]

Leith Hill Place
nr. Dorking

Dear Boult

Thankyou very much for your letter – I shd be proud for any part of the L.S.1 to be done again by you – but you certainly mustn’t cut about your programme for it – especially not the ‘Shropshire Lad’2 which ought to be heard everywhere as often as possible.
I agree with you that the last movement & possibly the scherzo of my symphony3 are too long - but it is re-writing they want - I do not think that mechanical cutting - however skilfully done wd be satisfactory
- Why not do the 1st movement only? It stands fairly well by itself.
I fear I shall be far away on March 18th as I am down for overseas - & may leave any day now.4
Yours very sincerely

R. Vaughan Williams.

1. A London Symphony, Catalogue of Works, 1913/5.
2. George Butterworth’s Rhapsody of this name, written in 1912.
3. A London Symphony. By the time of the performance on March 18 VW had cut some ten minutes of the symphony. Further changes were made before the symphony was published in 1920, and then more before the third revision was performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Thomas Beecham in 1934 and published c. 1936. See Kennedy, Catalogue of Works, pp.68-71. A recording of the long first version of the symphony was eventually made and released in 2001.
4. VW was sent to France on 1 March 1918 as a Lieutenant in the Royal Garrison Artillery. He had previously been to France as a Private in the Royal Army Medical Corps in 1916.


Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
Add MS 60499, ff. 195-196

Location of copy:

Shelfmark of copy: 
MS.Mus.1714/1/5, f.114 and MS Mus. 1714/1/16, f. 109
General notes: 

Printed in Jerrold Northrop Moore, Music & friends: seven decades of letters to Adrian Boult (London 1979), p.28. The date suggested there is 3 March 1918, but this is too late since according to R.V.W.: a biography, p.128, VW left for France on 1 March.

Cobbe 111; Moore, Music and Friends, p.28
Original database number: