Letter from Madelon Coates to Percy Scholes

Letter No.: 
Aug: 28th 1924

Villa Intragnola

My dear Mr Scholes

Thank you very much for your two postcards, we were awfully glad to hear from you.
With regard to the “notes” on the “London” Symphony about which you inquire, these were written by me according to the pictures which Vaughan Williams told us that he had had in mind whilst composing.  We dug the information out of him (it wanted some digging!) before we left for America the first time in l920. I have faithfully kept to the pictures as he described them, I only put them into literary form to the best of my ability trying to keep the atmosphere as he created it for me.  There is of course quite a lot in the notes that I put in exclusively for Americans who don’t know London & which I should not have written for any concert in England.
Vaughan Williams allowed us to publish the information in America but I think that he does not care for people over here to know all this.
I personally should be immensely flattered if you think these notes of mine worth quoting in a book by Percy Scholes! I think however you had better communicate with Vaughan Williams on the subject as he has some rather peculiar views about this Symphony being listened to simply as music without any accompanying pictures at all.
Personally I think he is wrong in this as the pictures which he had in mind are so poetic that they seem to give an added interest to the music.  I am enclosing you a copy of the notes in case you like to send them to him, he has never seen them as a matter of fact.  His London address is l3, Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, S.W.3 in case you don’t happen to have it.
Yours v. sincerely

Madelon Coates.

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General notes: 

Extract from a letter.  Madelon Coates was the wife of the conductor and composer Albert Coates, who at this time was musical director of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra in America. He had conducted the first performance of the revised version of the London Symphony after the war in 1920. In his reply to Mrs Coates Scholes wrote “I will be careful not to annoy Vaughan Williams. I do not think he will object to my quotation of the passages I have in mind; but he might do! Perhaps the best plan may be to get what I want to say into proof, and then submit it to him”. His letter to VW is VWL569 and VW's reply is VWL570.

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