Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Lyle Dowling

Letter No.: 
June 6th 1954.

From R. Vaughan Williams,
10 Hanover Terrace,
Regents Park,
London, N.W.1.

Dear Mr Dowling,
Thank you for your kind and comprehensive letter.1 Two things stand out:
1. As you say, from September 25th – November 28th I am entirely in the hands of Cornell, and cannot accept any engagement without their leave. As a matter of fact I think they have arranged quite as much as I want to do during that time. I always explained to them that I was coming chiefly for a holiday, with just sufficient fees to pay my wife’s and my expenses while in America. We also stipulated for a fortnight’s complete holiday in the middle, to go and see the Grand Canyons and such things – not to see people or go to parties.
2. After November 28th I hope to spend a few days in New York seeing friends. But it is a serious matter leaving my work so long, and the latest boat I can catch, is December 4th. Our passages are already booked. (Please don’t murmur ‘air’ because I can’t face it.) The next fast ship home is on Dec: 15th and too late for our English commitments.
Now some trouble arises: Josef Krips has done me the honour to ask me to conduct a piece of mine in New York on December 5th. This you see, I have had to refuse, and I am afraid he is rather offended about it. You will therefore see that I cannot possibly accept any dates to conduct in New York just before that.
Now as regards the rest of your letter: you talk about tea-parties and banquets. I believe that the league of Composers proposed to give me a dinner on my birthday, October 12th, on which date I am booked to give a lecture at Ann Arbor.  And as for my time in New York, we have many friends there, and I want to spend my time visiting them and showing my wife some of the sights and not going to parties.
As regards Press interviews: I have always refused these in England and I can see no reason why I should change my rule in America.
I fear I am being difficult, but we do want to enjoy ourselves in America, and that we definitely shall not do, our natures being what they are, if we are besieged by invitations to dinners and teas and concerts. And I want my time which is not occupied by my duties at Cornell to be peaceful and quiet in order to see whether America will not stimulate me with new ideas.
Press interviewing, of course, includes Television interviewing. But I would consent to a short talk (NOT AN INTERVIEW) if it will not take up much time or energy. Please remember that I shall be eighty two on October 12th.
Yours sincerely,
R Vaughan Williams

1. Presumably in response to VW's letter of May 8th, see VWL2818.


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