Price: $850.00


 Two page/one leaf letter dictated to and written by Adeline Vaughan-Williams and signed by the composer on his White Gates, Dorking stationary, May 18, (1935).  We offer with a 4” x 6” 1980’s produced postcard of the composer.


May 18, (1935)


Dear Sir


Thank you very much for your kind letter. 


Unfortunately at present these is only one score and set of parts of my new symphony and as these will be wanted for performances in Europe I fear they cannot at present be spared.


If you visit England this Summer I shall be happy to suggest some works of contemporary English composers which you may find interesting.


I am faithfully,


R Vaughan Williams


Vaughan-Williams’s (1872-1958) handwriting was abysmal and one has to get used to it to decipher it.  Both of his wives often took on the role of assistant and took dictation and wrote, or typed his correspondence, especially when legibility was important.  In this case, the letter is in the hand of his first wife, Adeline Maria Fisher Vaughan-Williams. (1870-1951). (We verified the handwriting via examples in The British Museum which houses the RVW Collection.)  


The puzzle is letter’s year of creation.  We have the hint that there is a score and one set of parts for a  new symphony, so it has to be a work not yet published and possibly given a recent premiere.  Due to his wife Adeline’s debilitating arthritis, the couple left the stairs of London in 1929 and moved to tranquility of country life in Dorking.  The composer’s stationary never changed during his Dorking years; stock and ink remained the same.  He wrote three symphonies whilst they lived in Dorking, the 4th completed in the Fall of 1934, the 5th completed in 1943 and the 6th completed in 1947.  The 5th would be out of the running, as it was during War-Time and Europe would not “be wanting” performances as he describes of his new symphony.  By 1947, Adeline was a near invalid and Ursula, his mistress and his eventual second wife was handling his correspondence.  Thus this letter dates to May 18, 1935.


Vaughan-Williams 4th Symphony in F minor was his first untitled symphony, a work of “pure music” he further stated, I wrote it not as a definite picture of anything external – eg the state of Europe, but simply because it occurred to me like this…. It is what I wanted to do at the time. He dedicated the symphony to the British composer eleven years his junior, Arnold Bax, who was present at the premiere, along with, Albert Coates, Hamilton Harty, Constant Lambert and William Walton.  Walton who had attended the rehearsals told Benjamin Arnold, We are going to hear the greatest symphony since Beethoven.  The work was shocking and angry and a complete departure from his 3rd Symphony, entitled “A Pastoral Symphony”. When queried about the work, he remarked, I don’t know if I like it, but it’s what I meant.  Many thought he was foreshadowing World War II, however, he never subscribed to that notion.  Written between 1931 and 1934, it received it’s first performance on April 10th, 1935 with Sir Adrian Boult leading the BBC Symphony Orchestra.  The work was well received by the public, as well as the critics.  The publication of the work occurred in the Fall of 1935, by Oxford University Press. 


As the correspondee was not in England, nor Europe and we found the letter in the United States, it likely to Artur Rodzinski who had assumed the Music Directorship of the Cleveland Orchestra in 1933.  Rodzinski was a champion of new music and conduced the American premiere of Vaughan-Williams 4th Symphony in Cleveland on December 19, 1935.  Four years to the month later, he would conduct the World Premiere of William Walton’s Violin Concerto with Jascha Heifetz as soloist. While we cannot be certain, there is a high probability that the composer was writing to Rodzinski.


Great content!





Phone: 212-860-5541  *  Fax: 917-677-8247