excerpt from 'Letter from Grace Williams to Benjamin Britten [Feb 1933' pp. 161-2 (388 words)

excerpt from 'Letter from Grace Williams to Benjamin Britten [Feb 1933' pp. 161-2 (388 words)

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Letter from Grace Williams to Benjamin Britten [Feb 1933

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Dear Benjamin, Now that truly is a remarkable work [Britten's A Boy Was Born] in many ways. I like best the IIIrd ['Jesu, as Thou art our Saviour'], and the 'bleak mid-winter' [variation 5] i.e. as music; it's older than the rest. Of course all that skill bowls one over right through - but I can't help feeling that some of it - (about a third of it) - again solely as music - isn't up to the standards of the rest. But hang it all what youth of 19 ever wrote a work that was completely a masterpeice? ('Mid-summer Night's Dream' said she in a whisper - but then the poor chap never surpassed this supreme feat of his 17 years - tragic, I think, to have written one's best work at 17.)

I was disappointed in the way the did the 'Herod' [variation 2] - it seemed to me to want lots more fire - and they could have done it; - the Ist ['Lullay, Jesu'], apart from the rather hazy performance, I feel is a but too reactionary; I know I liked it when I first heard it but now I feel it's too typically English and this same criticism I apply to part of the Finale - can't remember the tune, but I beleive it's got the rise of a 7th in it and a bit stidgy - it's towards the end; I think most of the Finale quite thrilling but it seems to me too long and this particular tune I feel is rather an anti-climax.

I was sorry that the Herod wasn't done better, because from what I remember of it, from last year, it is tremendously good and I think I might be inclined to raise it to the standard of III and IV. And I was quite heartbroken at the dreadful singing of the boys - rubbish! - and why on earth were they engaged when there are surely, dozens of choirboys in London who can at least sing. A terrible shame, - but never mind, when it's done at Q.H. [?Queen's Hall], you'll have to see that you get really angelic choirboys - and put them in the gallery; I do feel that boys ought to be away from the big choir (which of course is impossible at Broadcasting House). ...



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excerpt from 'Letter from Grace Williams to Benjamin Britten [Feb 1933' pp. 161-2 (388 words)


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