Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Hubert Foss (OUP)

Letter No.: 
VWL1584
Nov 6 [1941]

The White Gates

Dear Foss

This is sad news indeed - how shall we get on without you?1 I did not realize how much I counted on you - “Ask Foss’ advice” - “Ask Foss to see to it” or “I’ll ask Foss to play it over to me at Amen House” - But perhaps it is not all over as regards all that - and any way it is a selfish and material way of looking at things -  and I ought to think only of how grateful we all are for all you have done for music (and incidentally musicians; so many people who think they are doing a lot for music seem to forget that music is made by musicians). But you must have a glow of satisfaction when you think of Walton & Milford & Van Dieren - & if in the two latter cases (in the first (Milford) I think wrongly and the second (Van D) rightly) the horse has refused to drink - it is in spite of you not having merely led him to the water but positively shoved his nose in it.
As regards myself I know that I owe any success I have had more to you (except H.P.A.2 who insisted on shoving the S.Symph3 down people’s throats after it was a complete flop at Leeds) than to anyone.
Well the next lot of people who get the advantage of your energy & insight will be lucky and though your official relations with music & musicians may cease I know that you will continue to keep a fatherly eye on even those of us who are really old enough to be your father.
I always admired the way in which you took an interest in even the humblest of music makings - choral competitions school music etc - realizing the profound truth that without that foundation the Elgars & Waltons can’t exist.
Well good luck to you in any new ventures & congratulations to those who get you for a co-operator.
Yrs

R. Vaughan Williams


1. Written on Foss's resignation as head of the Music Department at the Oxford University Press, a post he had held since he had founded the Department in 1923. He had been VW's publisher from that date (though a few works appeared with other firms later, e.g. Three Choral Hymns with Curwen in 1930). This letter is printed in part in R.V.W.: a biography, pp. 244-5.
2. Hugh Percy Allen, a contemporary of VW at Cambridge University, was Professor at Oxford University and Director of the Royal College of Music.
3. The first performance of VW's Sea Symphony at Leeds had not been a flop by any means. Herbert Thompson described the performance as a 'wonderfully good one' and The Times critic reported that it had been warmly received (see Works of Vaughan Williams, p.98-99).

Location of original letter:

Location of copy:

Shelfmark of copy: 
MS Mus. 1714/1/13, ff.155-159
Format: 
Letter
Citation: 
Cobbe 369; R.V.W.: a biography of Ralph Vaughan Williams, p.244-245
Original database number: 
411106