from Holst, Gustav, 1874-1934 to Vaughan Williams, Ralph, 1872-1958
Letter No. VWL5229
Letter from Gustav Holst to Ralph Vaughan Williams
Letter No.: VWL5229
British Post Office
April 12 
…The enclosed1 was quite a success… Demobilization was in full swing, and between it and flu and malaria I had a different orchestra every two days and sometimes every two hours. At the end we had to get men from four different units to fill up. Can you guess what that meant in transport?
The Wednesday before, we gave the concert, barring the choral items, at the Church Hall Summerhill. It was packed with a jolly, keen, rowdy audience who hardly breathed during the music, who kindly laughed noisily at all my jokes (I spouted mildly before each item) and then bellowed and stamped by way of applause.
It was so good that I feared the big concert would fall flat – which it didn’t.
A big uninvited audience came to both full rehearsals.
I believe one of the big sights was the audience that did not get into the concert because there was no room left – red-hatted officers amongst them. Anyhow I’ve never seen such a crowd as the one that did get in.
They stood 4 to 6 deep all round the seats, they overflowed into the orchestra, and others got round to the back of the choir and into the green room. Then of course we had a big crowd outside. And the whole thing had to be repeated the following night ‘to prevent a free fight’ as I was told.
At last my books and music have arrived so that life is easier than at Salonica. They were sent out in October and arrived in March.
How are things with you?
1. A concert programme of British music in Constantinople
Text taken from Heirs and Rebels.
Citation:Heirs and Rebels, Letter XXI