Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to John Buckland

Letter No.: 
February 24th 1955.

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

Dear Buckland,
I was glad to have your news. I am sure the dancing will give a background to your composing; also the clarinet playing.1 I feel sure that Brahms made a mistake, and that a certain amount of the clumsiness which we find in his orchestration comes from his never having a practical knowledge of an orchestra, either conducting it, or playing in it.
As to your taking an A.R.C.M.2 in Theory, I doubt if it will help you to get pupils. People only take theory lessons in order to get through exams, and to do this they usually go to one of the colleges, which are already overstocked with teachers. I am not sure that your prep school to earn your bread and butter is not the best, though it is bitter bread and rancid butter! But it always does set you free to do your own work when you are not teaching. I rather think that teaching Theory will be even more galling to you than teaching French, since it has some remote connection with music. But it is a difficult problem any way.
I thought the music of Midsummer Marriage delightful, but I have no idea what the story was all about. I thought that Troilus had a good libretto and very fine music, though it never succeeded in wringing my withers.
R Vaughan Williams

1. VW was encouraging Buckland to take up Morris dancing to aid a future composition.
2. Associate of the Royal College of Music (diploma).

Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
Music-related Autograph Collection Box 11, Folder V38 Letter 022
General notes: 

Typewritten, signed.