Letter from Ernest Irving to Ralph Vaughan Williams

Letter No.: 
9th December 1946

[Ealing Studios]

R. Vaughan Williams Esq.,O.M.,Mus.Doc.
The White Gates,
Westcott Road,

Dear VW

Your letter arrived on Saturday morning, producing somewhat the same effect upon me as the lady's millstone must have done upon Abimelech1. Never in the history of Ealing, or for that matter of the world, has the score been finished before the film2, and I am carefully concealing it from the directors, who must not be approached from windward.
We have now received the score and have played it through from the sketch.3 It is the best music we have ever had here, and all the members of our little arcana were excited and delighted.
As the film is still incomplete it is, of course, quite impossible to express an opinion about the fitting of it, but in view of the latitude conceded by your instructions, I should think the necessary rearrangements will be possible without damaging the musical structure. If there should be anything sufficiently unmalleable as to demand actual reconstruction or new composition, I shall ask you to be kind enough to take a look at the episode on the screen.
I note particularly, and thoroughly agree, that in the time-space continuum you wish the time element to remain constant and adjustment to be made by extension or amputation, not by variation of velocity.
I think if I may offer an opinion that the brooding music of Romney Marsh is most delicately sensitive and paints the exact picture of what I should hope to see walking out from Appledore, at the same time cutting out the bungalows and pylons which, no doubt, frame the actual landscape!
I shall fit the sketch to the picture as soon as there is a cut copy to work on, and consult you about any alterations that I may have to suggest. meanwhile thank you very much indeed for a lovely musical job (not Job).
With kind regards.
Yours sincerely


Ernest Irving4

1.  Judges 9 vv.53,54: "And a certain woman cast a piece of a millstone upon Abimelech's head, and all to brake his skull. Then he called hastily unto the young man his armourbearer, and said unto him, Draw thy sword, and slay me, that men say not of me, A woman slew him. And his young man thrust him through, and he died."
2.  For The Loves of Joanna Godden, Catalogue of Works 1946/2. The film was first shown on 16th June 1947. The music was played by the Philharmonia Orchestra directed by Ernest Irving.
3.  Writing to Cordelia Curle on 6th December, AVW said: "This paper is not too fine to tell you that `Joanna' is packed up ready for posting to Ealing Studios - full score and reduced score! R feels such relief  & now he is going to apply himself to the new set of Bach parts".
4.  Director of Music(?) at Ealing Studios.


General notes: 

This letter is printed in RVW pp.271-2.

RVW pp.271-2.
Original database number: