Administered by:
University of Cambridge
Hubert J. Foss
Hubert James Foss (2 May 1899 27 May 1953) was an English pianist, composer, and first Musical Editor (19231941) for Oxford University Press (OUP) at Amen House in London. His work at the Press was a major factor in promoting music and musicians in England between the world wars, most notably Ralph Vaughan Williams, through publishing and encouraging performance of their works. In doing this work, he made the Music Department of OUP a major publisher of music in the early- and mid-twentieth century.

Foss, working with characteristic energy and enterprise, soon expanded the musical work of the London branch from its original concern with hymnals and music education to every branch of music publication and promotion. He quickly established sales agreements with publishers in other countries, and even in the United States (with Carl Fischer Music) where OUP had its own New York publishing office. He also travelled in Europe and to the United States as a member of the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM) whose international festival OUP hosted in 1931. In addition, he was maintaining his own work of composition and piano performance, often accompanying his second wife, the soprano Dora Maria Stevens (18931978), whom he married in 1927.

In the following years, he energetically pursued a number of freelance musical occupations, serving as critic, reviewer, journalist, and broadcaster. In this last, he was highly regarded and warmly commended by the BBC and other radio authorities during and after the war. He continued to serve as an editor and compiler of articles and works about music and its analysis and appreciation as well as publishing his own works. In the late war years, Foss began his study of Ralph Vaughan Williams, to which the composer himself contributed "A Musical Autobiography". Foss had been asked to assume the editorship of The Musical Times when he suffered a stroke following an operation. He died at the age of 54 at his home in London.

With Milford's support, Foss expanded and deepened OUP's music publishing scope from a limited number of hymnals and educational sheet music to a comprehensive inventory of operas, orchestral works, chamber pieces, choral and vocal works, and piano pieces, along with the production facilities and distribution channels to handle them. The educational works were increased and expanded, paralleling increased government support for music education. "The largest part of its publishing came to be of educational and tuitional works. It produced music courses at all levels for schools, textbooks for music colleges and colleges of education, and for universities. Most of Foss's own musical compositions are short forms: songs, piano pieces, and chamber music. As might be expected in one who championed the English tradition, his works often involve folk song and Elizabethan influences. Thus, he avoided atonal or "spiky" elements; Foss's music "frequently included complex chromatic harmonies, but his melodic lines remained lyrical in nature." Among the most notable are his contributions (together with Vaughan Williams and Clive Carey) of piano accompaniments for Folk Songs from Newfoundland collected by Maud Karpeles; and his Seven Poems by Thomas Hardy for baritone solo, men's chorus, and instruments.