Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Albert Sturgess

Letter No.: 
June 9th 1955.

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

Comments on Mr Sturgess's Memorandum.1

Page 1.  Though my income from Royalties and performing fees is now large, in my opinion it has reached its peak and will soon begin to go down, perhaps steeply.
As regards Estate Duty, is it possible to pay this in installments?  Will the duty be calculated on our joint income or only on mine?  I have recently made over to my wife about 30 thousand pounds: after five years that is, say, about three years from now, this will, I understand be free of estate duty.
Page 2. & 3.  The statement about my income is not quite clear and I should like some more explanation.  I find that I never, as yet, have had to sell out to pay income surtax: though I have occasionally have2 had to overdraw for a few months.
Page 3. continued.  It is the opinion of this memorandum that by handing over my performing fees to the Mus. Ben.3 I should loose4 £1630 and should be left with about £3500 spendable income.
My expenditure in 1953 & 1954 was over £4000, not including taxes or payments under covenant, and not including my wife's expenditure out of her income.  I admit this was rather a heavy year, but I do not see how I can afford to loose5 £1600.  According to the memorandum my death duties would be over £60000 and this would absorb my whole invested income.  But would not this be payable out of the £70000 which I earn by royalties and performing fees and leave my invested income intact?  I am most anxious that the payment of death duties shall not leave Mrs Vaughan Williams in any difficulty.  But except for the first year, I do not see how it could be so.  This is all on the supposition that I do not adopt the proposed scheme of making over my performing fees to the Mus Ben.
I shall ask for a little more explanation of page 5.  My ignorance of financial affairs is abysmal.
Page 6.  I do not like the idea of making over my fees to the Mus Ben. without restriction.  Of course I throughly6 trust Mr Thistleton and his colleagues,7 but we do not know who will follow them.  The paragraph about the assignment of performing fees wants a little more explanation.
Finally, I am not interested in money, except as a means of not having to think about it, and though naturally, I do not want to have too little, I should feel equally burdened if I had too much.  I repeat what I said at the beginning, the payment of income and surtax has never been a worry to me, and I have always found it possible to live on the income which remained.  This therefore makes me doubtful as to the wisdom of starting this new scheme.  I have shown the memorandum to Sir Gilmour Jenkins and have asked him to make some comment on it.

1. VW’s accountant, known to all as Bert Sturgess. This document enshrines VW’s first (rather cautious) reaction to proposals which were eventually to culminate in the establishment of the RVW Trust and RVW Ltd.
2. sic.
3. Musicians Benevolent Fund.
4. sic.
5. sic.
6. sic.
7. Frank Thistleton, Secretary of the Musicians Benevolent Fund.

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Cobbe 651
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