At a General Meeting of Cranleigh Choral Society held on 4 October 1938, it was proposed by Mr P Jackson and resolved that Dr R Vaughan Williams, living close to Cranleigh, be approached with the invitation to become President.
Ralph Vaughan Williams was born in 1872 at Down Ampney, Gloucestershire and was educated at Charterhouse School and Trinity College Cambridge. He became a pupil of Stanford and Parry at the Royal College of Music and later studied with Max Bruch in Berlin and Maurice Ravel in Paris. In the 1890s he began collecting and studying English folk song and was very much influenced by this and English Tudor music both sacred and secular.
Before the 1914-18 war, Vaughan Williams had met and sustained a friendship with the composer Gustav Holst. He went on to serve in the Field Ambulance Service in Flanders, during which he was deeply affected by the carnage and loss of close friends such as the composer George Butterworth.
For many years Vaughan Williams conducted and led the Leith Hill Music Festival. He also became professor of composition at the Royal College of Music in London.
He was awarded the Order of Merit in 1938 and died in August 1958. His ashes are interred in Westminster Abbey, near Purcell.
At a General Meeting of Cranleigh Choral Society held on 4 October 1938, it was proposed by Mr P Jackson and resolved that Dr R Vaughan Williams, living close to Cranleigh, be approached with the invitation to become President. We can safely assume that he agreed as he was listed as President in a concert programme for the Canterbury Pilgrims by Dyson.
At the first General Meeting of the Society held after the war on 19 October 1945 he was re-elected unanimously. An undated letter from Dr Ralph Vaughan Williams, accepting the invitation to continue as President, is assumed to be from around this time and can be seen below.