Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Mary Glasgow

Letter No.: 
July 31 [1943]

The White Gates,


Dear Miss Glasgow1

Here is my promised cantankerous letter.
It concerns a letter which was sent in your name to Miss Sybil Eaton2 and, presumably, to others of our travellers besides and Miss Eaton has given me full leave to comment on it.
You already know, of course, that she has sent in her resignation as a result of this letter. She was chiefly upset by the sentence “The Council will not expect the Music Advisers to take very much part themselves as performers at Cema3 concerts.”
Miss Eaton considers and I think rightly that unless she can take part as performer in the scheme she is being reduced to the position of a mere concert agent.
I challenged Dr. Jacques4  when I met him with the sentence and he told me that in her case “it meant nothing.” But if it means nothing why write it?
The next sentence starting “how far it will be possible” etc seems to suggest that those travellers who do not fit in with some new scheme, not yet clearly defined, will receive their Congé. Miss Eaton also tells me that she has had instructions that “Cema concerts must be made to pay” and that in consequence the pioneer concerts in remote villages which obviously cannot pay and in which the services of the traveller as performer would be particularly valuable, must be discontinued. Unless Miss Eaton has also misunderstood this part of her instructions this policy seems to me to be drifting in the direction of “window dressing” rather than of fostering art, and reducing CEMA to little more than a commercial concert agency. These symptoms may be unimportant in themselves and would not trouble me so much if they did not coincide with the policy which our new Chairman appears to me to advocate in all his pronouncements.
Yrs sincerely,

R. Vaughan Williams

1. Mary Glasgow, Secretary General of CEMA.
2. Violinist. She had been the first music traveller for CEMA and after this episode became a music traveller for the Rural Schools Music Association.
3. sic.
4. Reginald Jacques, organist and conductor. He was the first Director of CEMA.


Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
Arts Council archive file EL 2/20
General notes: 

Year taken from context. In the hand of AVW, signed by VW.

Cobbe 416
Original database number: