Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Geoffrey Cumberlege (OUP)

Letter No.: 
March 7th 1953.

The White Gates,
Westcott Road,

Dear Mr. Cumberlege,1
Please forgive my delay in answering. With regard to your proposed omissions, I agree to leaving out Who wants the English Composer. I should be sorry to lose Nationalism and Internationalism, because I feel it contains some of the most important things I have to say; also it has never before been printed. I agree to leaving out Shrubsole; my personal feeling is that it is complete as it stands, and to add to it would be mere padding. I am quite willing to leave out the Holst essay, but I feel I cannot, so many years after, add to it. Besides this, we have now had Imogen Holst’s two books which cover the ground. I have lately discovered in the R.C.M. Magazine a short article on Holst which I wrote after his death. I send it to you in case you would like to substitute it. As regards to adding some chapters from my National Music, they would probably have to be largely rewritten. Unfortunately I have lost my copy. Is there one you could lend me?2 As regards title, my original title was Some Thoughts on Beethoven’s Choral Symphony with Some Other Writings – What do you think of this?

Yours sincerely,

R. Vaughan Williams

P.S. Would it be possible to retain the programme note about the B Minor Mass in English?3

1. Publisher to Oxford University.
2. Maud Karpeles lent VW a copy - see VWL2667.
3. Alan Frank had reported to Cumberlege on 17th February that he and the music books editor, Anthony Mulgan, were none too happy about the collection as submitted by VW: (1) He would like the Mary Flexner lectures given at Bryn Mawr in 1932 (on National Music) included (for VW’s response to this suggestion see VWL2667); (2) there was a group of largely ephemeral programme notes which should be omitted as well as some of the essays - notably ‘Who wants the English composer?’, Nationalism and internationalism’, ‘A minim’s rest’ and ‘Shrubsole’. - these omissions with the inclusion of ‘National Music’ would make a better book; (3) The essay on Holst was interesting but stopped short 15 years before Holst’s death and was disconcerting since it was written as if Holst was still alive and about to fulfil his considerable promise - VW should be asked to add a short introduction to the essay dealing with Holst in retrospect; (3) there was some need of revision which the Music Department would see to; (4) VW’s title focused over much on the Beethoven essay, though it was indeed interesting and unpublished: If ‘National Music’ was included that would be a good title with a qualification such as ‘… and other writings on musical subjects’. In the event ‘The Mass in B minor in English’ was retained, as were ‘A minim’s rest’, ‘Shrubsole’ and ‘Nationalism and internationalism’. VW’s RCM Magazine piece on Holst was appended to his Holst essay to appear as ‘Gustav Holst: an essay and a note’.


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Shelfmark of original letter: 
File 119W
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