Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Robin Ivison

Letter No.: 
May 16th 1957

From R. Vaughan Williams,
10, Hanover Terrace,
Regents Park,
London, N.W.1.

Dear Mr Ivison1

It gave me great pleasure to receive your interesting letter, which showed, among other things, that the more elaborate music ought to grow out of the simpler. You tell me that you first got to know my music through a simple hymn tune and a simple song (by the way, Linden Lea is not a folk song - that was a mistake on the part of an ignorant publisher).  If I can feel that my more elaborate music has grown out of the simpler I shall feel that I have achieved something. For instance, I myself can get an inkling of what the later Bartok is all about because I can see in it the same mind that invented the simple children’s pieces.
May I be allowed to send my respectful greetings to your Gillian, and good wishes for your wedding? And your choice of hymns. By the way, I hope you will use the true version of the Old Hundredth, with the long notes at the ends of lines, thus:

You may remember that at the coronation the magnificent effect of the Old Hundredth was partly spoiled because all the Dukes and Viscounts sang the wrong version!2
Yours sincerely

R. Vaughan Williams

1. Ivison had written to VW to thank him for his music and had mentioned that his mother sang 'Linden Lea' to him as a child and asked if it was a folk song. Ivison's letter is British Library MS Mus. 1714/1/23, ff. 49-52.
2. VW had been afraid of this when preparing for the service; see VWL2687.

Location of original letter:

Location of copy:

Cobbe 715
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