from Vaughan Williams, Ralph, 1872-1958 to Foss, Hubert J. (Hubert James), 1899-1953

Letter No. VWL2468

Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Hubert Foss

Letter No.: VWL2468

The White Gates,

17th September, 1952

Dear Hubert

In answer to your two letters:
1st. The Bridal Day: Stanford Robinson asked to see this some months ago and I sent it to him, but I had some doubts about it after many years not having looked at it. He has not returned it and only just acknowledged it, so I suppose he does not care for it and perhaps I no longer care for it myself. Would it be a good plan to have a little symposium of you and me and one or two others, and get Michael Mullinar to play it through to us, and then we can make up our minds about it whether we had better let it go further.
Now your second letter: I will do my best, but I always forget all details about my own stuff; but I think you can supplement them from the publishers:1
(1). “Oxford Elegy” (O.U.P.) Words from Matthew Arnold, Scholar Gypsy and Thyrsis. First performed Queen’s College, Oxford, June 19th. 1952, Conductor Bernard Rose.2
(2). “Sinfonia Antarctica” M.S. O.U.P. (Not, by the way, Antartica as printed in the B.B.C. programmes). Dedication Ernest Irving. First performance planned for Manchester January 14th. 1953 and in London (Philharmonic) January 21st. In both cases Barbirolli, Conductor, and Hallé Orchestra.3
(3). “Romance for Harmonica and String Orchestra” M.S. O.U.P. First performance New York (date?) In England (Liverpool) (date?), London Proms. September 6th. 1952. Dedication Larry Adler.4
(4). “Fantasia on Old 104th Psalm Tune”. Chorus, pianoforte, orchestra (O.U.P.). First performance Gloucester Festival 1950, solo pianoforte played by Michael Mullinar. No dedication.5
(5). “Concerto grosso for Strings” (O.U.P.). First performance Albert Hall (date?).6
There are also the following which may or may not be on your list:
(a). “Sons of light”. Cantata, chorus and orchestra (O.U.P.). Poem by Ursula Wood. Dedication Bernard Shore. First performance Albert Hall May 6th. 1951.7
(b). “In the Spring”. Solo song. Words by William Barnes (O.U.P.). So far as I know not yet performed in public. Dedication, the Barnes Society.8
(c). “A Cotswold Romance”. Cantata for Soprano and tenor solos, chorus and orchestra. Adapted from “Hugh the Drover” by Maurice Jacobson (Curwen).9
(d). “Three Shakespeare Songs”, S.A.T.B., dedication to Armstrong Gibbs. First performance Festival Hall (date?) (O.U.P.).10
(e). Motet, “Is it nothing to you”. Adapted to English words from “O Vos Omnes”. (Curwen).11
(f). Various arrangements of “Linden Lea” (Boosey).12
(g). “The Vagabond” arranged from the solo song for TTBB unaccomp (Boosey)13
(h). 7 songs from P.P. (O.U.P.). Various dedications. 14
I fear my information is rather vague but I think you can get all other details you want from the various publishers.


1. Foss appears to have asked for details of recent works to add to the list in a second edition of Ralph Vaughan Williams: a study.
2. Catalogue of Works1949/2.
3. Catalogue of Works 1952/2. VW was still firmly using the spelling ‘antarctica’ in a letter to Elizabeth Trevelyan the following November – see VWL2483. The spelling did not finally settle down until March 1953 when Oxford University Press on the point of publishing the score seem to have insisted that ‘Antartica’ was the correct Italian spelling for the adjective. VW discussed the matter with Ernest Irving and gave in – see VWL2608.
4. Catalogue of Works 1951/4
5. Catalogue of Works 1949/3
6. Catalogue of Works 1951/1.
7. Catalogue of Works1951/3.
8. Catalogue of Works 1952/1
9. See Catalogue of Works 1924/2 (p.109)
10. Catalogue of Works 1951/3.
11. See Catalogue of Works 1922/2.
12. See Catalogue of Works 1901/1.
13. See Catalogue of Works 1904/10
14. Pilgrim’s Progress, Catalogue of Works1951/1a.