Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Alan Frank (OUP)

Letter No.: 
4th February, 1953.

The White Gates,
Dorking, Surrey.

Dear Frank,

I have several things to write to you about.
Firstly: I have written to the P. R. S. and they agree to Roy Douglas having all fees but they want to know the exact title. Will you settle what it is. Anything which will make the thing sell!1
Secondly: Yesterday I sent the volume of essays2 off to Cumberlege for his acceptance or rejection. This answers your next letter about reprinting my article on Bach because that will be in the volume if Cumberlege agrees.
Thirdly: McKie has asked me to arrange the “Old Hundredth”3 for performance in the Abbey at the Coronation. I do not think there is anything in it you would want to publish. To begin with the first and last verses are adapted from a Cantata which I wrote before the O. U. P. existed and which is published by Stainer and Bell. I presume they will give leave. The second and third verses are taken straight out of “Songs of Praise”, and the fourth verse is the “Faux Bourdon” by Dowland. But of course, if you do want it, it is yours and I will tell McKie.4
Lastly, and this is very Confidential: I had an informed visit the other day from Mrs. Alexander Maitland who is on the Committee of the Edinburgh Festival, and she asked me if I would consider allowing P. P.5 to be done in their Assembly Room. It is a small building, only holding 1,500 and it would be done (and this I quite agree to) on an Elizabethan stage without much scenery. The only question about which we failed to come to an agreement was about the orchestra. She thought it would be a small orchestra but I told her I could not agree to anything but the full orchestra of 60 to 70 players; but since saying that it has occurred to me that in a small building a large orchestra might be rather overpowering. We obviously cannot just cut it down. It would mean entire re-scoring and I* would be willing to do this if you and they consider it a good plan.6
Will you think it over?
At present, as I say, it is quite unofficial and confidential.


*Or get Roy to do it!

1. VW had insisted that Roy Douglas should retain all payments arising through the Performing Right Society from the suite which he compiled from the Cantata Folk Songs of the Four Seasons, Catalogue of Works, 1949/1a.
2. Some Thoughts on Beethoven’s Choral Symphony with writings on other musical subjects (1953).
3. Catalogue of Works 1953/2.
4. The Old Hundreth Psalm Tune, Catalogue of Works 1953/2, had been commissioned by  Sir William McKie, organist of Westminster Abbey, for the Coronation Service of Queen Elizabeth II on 2nd June.
5. The Pilgrim’s Progress
This plan for a performance of The Pilgrim’s Progress (Catalogue of Works, 1951/1) did not materialise.

Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
File 119
General notes: 

Typewritten, signed.

Original database number: