Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Adrian Boult

Letter No.: 
Oct 14 [1928]


Dear Adrian

Thank you so much for your letter
I know the choir* will make great strides with you.  I have already heard an enthusiastic account of the first practice. 
I enclose a (confidential) list of singers who would do for semi-chorus.1
I used to find Lady Gowers a splendid help in arranging the choir-seating for performances, discovering semi-chorus singers etc.
 I feel rather diffident about offering advice to such an experienced chorus trainer as you but I will chance my arm & make the following suggestions -
(1) Don't wait to start practice till everybody is ready - or you will never start at all.  I always used to kick off at 5-30 sharp whoever was or wasn’t there & however much row was going off at the bargain counter behind the curtain.
(2)  Always insist on 2 band rehearsals - the extra rehearsal only costs about £25 which is a drop in the ocean compared with our total loss on each concert.  I used to have full rehearsal 4 to 7 the day before the concert, telling the chorus to come at 4-30 or 5 as the case might be - They were very good about it & I got most of the females there by 4-30 & usually had the full chorus there from 5-30 to 6-45 when the band used to disappear & I sometimes kept the chorus on alone up to 7 or later.
Then I had a band rehearsal with soloists & such of the chorus as could turn up at 10 am on the day of the concert.


*I think Bach choir - AMB2

1. VW had given up the conductorship of the Bach Choir on moving to Dorking and Adrian Boult had been appointed to succeed him.
2. The footnote asterisked in the letter was added in the hand of Ann Boult, wife of Adrian, at a later date.


Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
Add. MS 72624, ff.175-176
General notes: 

Manuscript, in the hand of AVW and signed by VW.
Jerrold Northrop Moore, Music and Friends: Seven decades of letters to Adrian Boult, London 1979.

Cobbe 170; Moore, Music and Friends, p.84
Original database number: