Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Adrian Boult (BBC)

Letter No.: 
March 5 [1945]

The White Gates

Dear Adrian

Thank you and your players very much for all the trouble they are taking over my string passages.1  Peterkin2 is much upset over the proposed alterations which will have to be altered in each part, of course. He says it has been played by many orchestras all over the world & no one has complained up to now.  Between ourselves do you think there is the necessity to alter & is P.B.3 making a fuss about nothing.  As to playing it pp - I always find that string quavers in the scherzo are, if anything, not prominent enough.
To my limited knowledge of the violin P.B’s passages do not seem easier than mine - but of course he knows best - but some of his alterations do not fit & I cannot use them as they stand
All this in confidence
You kindly sent me 2 proposed alterations - the cor anglais in the scherzo I have altered;  the other, I think, must be a wrong reference.
You say “Final 5 before (4) first cello surely should be E not F last note - but at that place the last note is D and the cellos are not divided!4
Thank you all v. much


1.  This refers to passages in Symphony (No. 5) in D Major (Catalogue of Works 1943/2).
2.  Norman Peterkin, Head of the Music Department at Oxford University Press.
3.  Paul Beard, leader of the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
4. Boult’s suggestion meant 5 bars before Fig. 4 in the Romanza, where the upper note in the second cellos on beat 3 remained as an F when the printed score appeared in 1946. This remained unchanged until the 2008 edition where it is changed to an E (as Boultsuggests!). On 14 March 1945, Vaughan Williams wrote to Norman Peterkin at OUP asking him to take in Paul Beard's suggested revisions (VWL1878).

Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
File 910, VW composer
General notes: 

Year date taken from stamp of receipt.

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