Letter from Gustav Holst to Ralph Vaughan Williams

Letter No.: 
VWL3961
Nov 11, [1925]

St. Paul's Girls' School,
Brook Green, Hammersmith, W.6.

Dear R
It was good to read and re-read your letter today.  One of the reasons for its goodness being that it contains much that I felt but failed to get into words about 'Flos'.
The only point in which I differ from you is about the fear of drifting apart musically or in any other way.  I expect it is the result of my old flair for Hundu philosophy and it is difficult to put simply.
It concerns the difference between unity and uniformity which is the difference between life and death whcih means that occasionally drifting is necessary to keeping our stock fresh and sweet.  It alas means a lot more but that's enough for one go.
Of course there's another side and about this I am absolutley in the dark.  I mean the real value of either Flos, the KS1, Beethoven's 9th or anything else - barring things like the B minor.  During the last two years I have learnt that I don't know good music from bad or, rather, good from less good.
And I'm not at all sure that the KS is good at all.  Just at present I believe I like it which is more that I can say about most of my things.  I'm quite sure that I like the Mass2 and PS3 best of all your things.  I couldn't get hold of Flos a bit and was therefore disappointed with it and me.  But I'm not disappointed in Flos's composer because he has not repeated himself.  Therefore it is probably either an improvement or something that will lead to one.  Which seems identical with your feelings about the KS.
I am now longing to apologise for all this rigmarole but I see you call your letter one and if getting all this off my chest gives you a quarter of the pleasure that your letter gave me it will have been well worth writing.
I was very very sorry to miss the violin concerto.  So far I've only heard Vally's account which was glowing.  She also surprised herself by liking van Dieren.
yr
G
P.S. I am seriously contemplating giving up all lecturing and conducting after this season.  I've spouted and waggled quite enough!


1.  i.e. 'Keats Symphony' = Holst's Choral Symphony.
2.  Mass in G minor.
3.  Pastoral Symphony.

Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
Add. MS 57953, f.
General notes: 

This letter is in reply to VWL589.

Format: 
Letter
Citation: 
Heirs and Rebels, Letter XXVI
Original database number: 
Holst