Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Frederick Page

Letter No.: 
Sep 5 [1941]

From R. Vaughan Williams,
The White Gates,
Westcott Road,

Dear Page1

Your letter has just arrived (3 months!).  I was very glad to have it and to have news of you
We all keep cheerful and confident here - but realize that a lot of hard work has to be done & difficulties & danger met yet.  N.Z. is doing bravely .  I am glad you are teaching - & you couldn’t do better than with R.O.M.’s books2  - he is a great man. He is now living with us since his wife died a few months ago.  Give my love to Lilburne3 - & tell him he must try & combine farming and music.
Please give a message to the 'Harmonic'4  that I hope they will do the B minor.5
The great difficulty is the high trumpet parts - I always double these by clarinets which steadies their notes (the clarinets are also useful for thickening Bach’s oboe & flute parts which do not balance with the large modern chorus & orchestra.
If you have only the ordinary B [flat] trumpets I should give the trumpet parts as they stand to clarinets (including an E [flat] or D clar) (doubled if possible) & make a faked part for the 3 trumpets.  But I daresay you know all this already.

R. Vaughan Williams

P.S.  You say nothing about your own compositions.  I should like to hear favourable news of them.


1. New Zealand pupil of VW at the Royal College of Music, 1935-37, and at the time of this letter a teacher in the music department of Canterbury University College (later Canterbury University), New Zealand. He went on to be lecturer and then professor in music at Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand.
2. R.O. Morris.
3. Douglas Lilburn
4. The Harmonic Society in Christchurch, New Zealand, which favoured Bach works. See J.M. Thomson (ed.), The Oxford History of New Zealand Music (Oxford and Auckland, 1991), p.106-7.
5. VW arranged part of J.S. Bach's Mass in B minor in English, although not until 1945.



Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
MS Papers 3903

Location of copy:

Shelfmark of copy: 
MS Mus. 1714/1/26, ff. 18-23
General notes: 

Year from postmark. Pencil note on original '1942' is clearly wrong.

Cobbe 366
Original database number: