Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Hubert Foss

Letter No.: 
January 2 [1952]

The White Gates

Dear Hubert,

I am dictating this letter, not from want of affection but because I want to be legible.
I am so sorry to hear you are ill in hospital.1 I shall be in London for a few days this week & I will ring up the hospital to see if there is any chance of paying you a visit.
I am up chiefly for the first night of Wozzeck2- up to the present Berg has merely bored me - but I went to a bit of a rehearsal the other day and I was so intrigued by the stage that I did not bother to listen to the music: which perhaps is the best way of listening to it, and what the composer meant.
I wonder how you are getting on with your life of Constant?3 There is one very amusing story which he told me which I fear you cannot put in -
How, before being finally passed for his scholarship at the R.C.M.4 he had to be medically examined and the doctor demanded a specimen … which he duly brought down to college, but could find no instructions as to where to leave it & had finally, so far as I can remember, to carry it about all day in his music case.
There is a fine comedy part for Parry Jones5 in Wozzeck.

R. Vaughan Williams

1. Foss was in University College Hospital for the removal of a tumour from his lung. See Duncan Hinnells, An extraordinary performance: Hubert Foss, Music Publishing and the Oxford University Press (Oxford University Press 1998), p.37.
2. This was not VW’s first encounter with Wozzeck; he and AVW had listened to a broadcast of it in March 1945 - see VWL1882.
3. Foss was writing a life of Constant Lambert, see Hinnells, op.cit.
4. Royal College of Music
5. The tenor. He sang the Captain's role.

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In the hand of Ursula Wood; last paragraph and signature in hand of VW.

Cobbe 572
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