Letter from from Ernest Irving to Ralph Vaughan Williams

Letter No.: 
21st June, 1948

Ealing Studios Limited
Ealing Green
London W5

Dear VW

Re Scott of the Antarctic.

The picture is now rough cut; and (lively and necessary) discussions are taking place regarding the use and adaptation of the music. I shall not trouble you with details of the guerilla warfare, but shall submit any decisions arrived at for your approval (or disapproval!).
The Main Title Music will have to be about ten seconds longer and I do not think it wise to gain length by slowing the tempo, as then the strenuousness exudes from the heels of the ski. I have, therefore, made one of the repeats indicated in your original sketch, which you will see in extension between letters C & D in the new full score.
As an alternative I have made a 5 bar prelude out of the first bars of your accompaniment. Please let me know which you prefer. Probably you will dislike both, as I do. The piece is much better as you wrote it, but I am afraid we must have the length.
The prologue is now fitted with the cuts as indicated. I have fitted it to the picture and the combination of Arctic views with the music is considered by all to be magnificent. At the end there is a bit of Aurora Australis to come to which I shall fit a piece of the music you designed for that; it is not very long. I think it will be better to omit the wind machine as there will be such a lot of real wind noises in the picture.
About the sculpture (foot steps) scene we have experimented with six or seven modes of using the music, but I cannot get them to like using the voice. Charles Frend sees in this scene only domestic felicity and will not listen to the Polar plan through Odysseus’ wax-plugged ears. I think he is wrong and like the voice, but meanwhile I have cut it outx and use only the Kathleen music.
Active operations continue over the rest of the Antarctic front. Will report when there is anything to submit.
Yours ever

Ernest Irving

P.S. Later: I think I have discovered a modus vivendi (starting with the voice).

P.P.S. They do not at present like the voices over the raining Huddersfield street (Oates’ arrival). I shall make it both ways with voices as written, & with solo violin antiphonal with 3 flutes & 1 Bassoon.

Marked in blue pencil 'Not sent to V.W.'


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