Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Ronald Gurney

Letter No.: 
[May 1955]

Dear Mr. Gurney,1
 Mr. Alan Frank passed on to Gerald Finzi a copy of a letter which he has received from you, in which you refused to allow any further publication of your brother’s work. Mr. Finzi feels that he can can [sic] do no more in the matter.
 As an old friend of Ivor’s, and at one time his teacher, and a composer myself, I am naturally interested in this. Mr. Finzi tells me that although you are quite right in saying that there is a lot of worthless stuff amongst the remains, it is entirely incorrect to say that there is nothing else worth publishing. As he has been partly responsible for collecting the manuscripts and has been through them and catalogued them, he knows that there are at least thirty or forty more that need looking at before such a decision can possibly be made. I think Dr. Howells will bear him out in this opinion, and both these composers are competent to pass an opinion.
 If, however, for some personal reason, you object to the further publication of your brother’s work, I can only repeat my conviction that we have a responsibility towards the remains of our great men, and that it is a moral duty to see that these manuscripts, whether or not you think they are only fir for the bonfire, are preserved, preferably in public possession, for future generations to come to a decision about the [sic].
 I myself would be willing to buy the manuscripts and present them to the British Museum, unless you preferred to give them as a Ronald Burney Bequest. In either case your name would go down to posterity as a benefactor.  
    Yours sincerely,

Ralph Vaughan Williams

1. Brother of the composer Ivor Gurney.


Shelfmark of original letter: 
G8.1 (50)
General notes: 

Typewritten, with manuscript 'signature' (not in VW's hand). A later version of this letter is at VWL3008.

Original database number: