Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Adrian Boult

Letter No.: 
Feb 7 [1945]

The White Gates,
Westcott Road,

Dear Adrian

Thank you so much for your letter – I wish I cd have heard the D Symph1 on Sat – but I had my choir – Adeline listened & said it was fine & beautifully clear & all the Tempi just right.
I will make a note of the C.A.2 & cello places when the proofs come in.  I am rather upset by what P. Beard says about the string parts – I ought to have had them vetted before they were played the first time – but I thought they were all right. I wish he’d told us before – after all he’s played it about 6 times & has never said a word to me!
I am writing to him to ask if he could mark a part with constructive suggestions – If so I will get the OUP to send him a V I3 Part.
There is one part which worries me over a broadcast performance – that opening C (cello & bass) is all but inaudible – I think for wireless it ought to be mf or even start fp – But of course this would spoil a a4 concert performance.
As regards Paddy5 & the end – I have already lengthened it by several bars from the first sketch – & I don’t feel I want any more – But perhaps a bigger rallentando & a longer final pause especially on the last 2 bars (where the inner parts all move for 1st two crotchets) wd do the trick.6
Thank you so much for all you do for my music – you make it live.


1.  The Fifth Symphony , Catalogue of Works 1943/2. The full score was published in 1946. Boult had conducted a broadcast performance of the Fifth Symphony with the BBC Symphony Orchestra the preceding Saturday; see VWL1845 for a letter from Adeline to Ann Boult on the subject.
2.  Cor Anglais presumably.
3.  i.e. 1st violin
4.  sic.
5.  Patrick Hadley, English composer and pupil of VW who became Professor of Music at Cambridge in 1946, had apparently suggested that the ending of the symphony should be extended.
6. The final bars in the published score are marked Molto rit. but the pause is only on the final bar.


Location of original letter:

General notes: 

Kindly transcribed by David Matthews.

Cobbe 441
Original database number: