Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Hubert Foss

Letter No.: 
VWL2188
7th February 1951

The White Gates,
Dorking, Surrey.

I have been through the book carefully, as you asked, and I have found a certain number of misprints and mistakes, which you have doubtless already discovered yourself, but in case not I send them herewith:1
Page 20: Surely “insisted” and not “insists”.
Page 30: “Smuggeries”, not “snuggeries”.
Page 84: “Soul” not “semi”.
Page 93: “Flag” not “half”.
Page 107: “Grow slack” not “go slack”.
Page 183: “Lob” not “Nob”.

Also the following mistakes:
Page 13: “Vicar” not “rector”.
   –   13: After the word “Bruch” add 1897.
   –   24: The “Willow Song” is a part song.
   –   44: “Sound Sleep” is by Christina Rossetti. (See also Page 80)
   –   73: “Easter Wings”. Surely this arrangement of the words is meant to suggest wings, not hour-glass.
   –   84: “Willow Wood” was written before “The House of Life”.
   –   116: The Tallis Fantasia was first performed at the Gloucester festival in 1910. I conducted it myself. It has never, so far as I know, been conducted by Beecham. Are you not mixing it up with “The Fen Country” which was produced by Beecham at Queen’s Hall in, I think, 1909.
   –   143: The last revised version of the Pianoforte Concerto ends quietly.
   –   157: “Flos Campi” was not written for Tertis, though it was first performed by him. The “Viola Suite” was composed for him.
   –   164: 6 clarinets, not 16.
   –   202: Same mistake about Tallis.
   –   204: There is now only one Norfolk Rhapsody; the other two are scrapped.
 Fantasia on a theme by Tallis - again 1910.
   –   209: “O Vos Omnes”. A version with English words of this has lately been issued by Curwen.
   –   211: “On Christmas Night” is still in manuscript.

As regards “Songs of Travel”. It was originally written and sung as one cycle. The order was quite different from what it is as now published and included “Whither must I wander”, which had already been published, but not by Boosey’s though Boosey’s have it now. Boosey’s originally refused to publish the whole cycle and chose three - then published the others later.
I don’t know whether it is worth while doing anything about that.
With regard to your queries: The history of the “London Symphony” has no musical interest, therefore I don’t think it comes into your scheme. I do refer to it in my auto[bio]graphical chapter when I am talking about Butterworth.
Page 204: “The Wasps”suite is published complete by Curwen and I think is still in print.
   –   205: “Folk Song Suite” for military band and March of  Seasongs also for military band published by Boosey. These both have orchestral arrangements by Gordon Jacob.
 “Suite for Pipes” published by O.U.P.
 “Fantasia on Sussex Folk Song” scrapped.
 “Fantasia on Old 104th Psalm tune”, “Concerto Grosso”, “Folk Songs of the Four Seasons” all published by O.U.P.

I do not think we need bother about the background music done for the B.B.C., but if you want them, they are, as far as I can remember, as follows:
Incidental Music to “Pilgrim’s Progress”, a lot of which I have used in the Opera.
Incidental Music to “Richard II” paid for, but as far as I can make out, never used.2
A series of very short motets written for Walford Davis. These were also paid for, but whether the B.B.C. ever used them I do not know.3
I think that is all. Sorry for so long a letter, but you asked for it.
R. Vaughan Williams

Hubert Foss, Esq.
60, Corringham Road,
London, N.W.11.


1. Hubert Foss, Ralph Vaughan Williams: a study, Harrap, London, 1950. The mistakes appear in the first edition; no second edition was published.
2. Catalogue of Works 1947/3.
3. Sic. Walford Davies was on the advisory staff of the BBC 1927-39 The motets do not appear to have survived but the file copy of the contract is preserved in the BBC archives and some correspondence in the OUP archives (see VWL1539). The motets, described as introits, were:
All nations whom thou hast made shall come
Be strong all ye people of the land
I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me
Jesus said, Inasmuch as ye did unto me
Jesus said, Upon this rock will I build my church
Nations shall come to thy light
Jesus said, Blessed are they that mourn
There were great voices in Heaven saying
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace

 They were to be used in religious services only and VW was paid 8 guineas for each of them.

Subjects:

Location of copy:

Shelfmark of copy: 
MS Mus. 1714/2/2/1, ff. 109-111
General notes: 

Typewritten, signed.

Format: 
Letter
Citation: 
Cobbe 548
Original database number: 
510207