The UK musicologist who plotted a Nazi takeover

The UK musicologist who plotted a Nazi takeover


norman lebrecht

September 15, 2018

Tim Tate, author of Hitler’s British Traitors, has a fabulous story of a Hitler-friendly musicologist who was being tracked by the secret services.


Evidence that Dr. Leigh Vaughan-Henry, a celebrated musicologist, conductor and ardent anti-Semite, had created a substantial organisation to lead this revolution is held in an otherwise obscure Treasury Solicitors’ file, open for inspection at the National Archives in Kew. It contains extracts of reports from undercover MI5 agents who penetrated Vaughan-Henry’s innermost circles; these show that the self-proclaimed “Leader” was getting ready to replace the elected government with a pro-Hitler puppet régime just as soon as German troops landed in Britain.

To ensure the coup’s success, he was planning the “intimidation of certain people by threat and possible action against their wives and children; bumping off certain people (this to be organized with great care.”

Read on here.


  • MavisP says:

    A prominent British conductor’s father was well known to be a supporter of Oswald Mosely and his Blackshirts. Sadly there would have been many in the UK who would have openly sided with the Nazi’s if Hitler had invaded including musicians, actors and sundry fellow travellers.

  • Doug says:

    Let’s see….today’s musician, musicologist is also antisemite, and blindly loyal to totalitarianism, but this time it’s innocently labeled “socialism.”

    Need any further proof that fascism and communism are peas of the same pod? Total state control of the individual.

    • Sue says:

      I’d have to agree with that; both sides of the one coin. It was George Orwell, writing in “The Road to Wigan Pier” that the Left “disliked the poor and hated the rich”. Welcome to the brave new world!! These days the working poor are referred to as “deplorables”.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Nonsense. There are many forms of ‘socialism’ and thanks to the awareness that a civil society cannot afford true poverty and destitution of any of her citizens, for whatever reason, the postwar welfare state has – in many European countries – created a safety net for people who drop-out of the capitalist ‘free market’ obsessed society. It should be clear bu now, after 2008, that the economy has to be regulated and the abberations of the ‘free market’ (which is, in fact, not free at all), tamed. The notion of freedom has only meaning in relation to the ‘from’, and the ‘for’.

  • Michael B. says:

    What about Reginald Goodall? He was a member of Oswald Moseley’s British fascist party, fought to prevent Jewish musicians from the regions of Europe under Nazi control, many of whom enriched British musical life immensely, from coming to England, and, even after the war, declined to tour the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, saying that it was fiction manufactured in a British movie studio. I cannot understand the respect (even adulation) in which he is held in certain circles. I do not want my Wagner sung in English, and I find his tempos absolutely ridiculous, regardless of whether the Wagner is sung in English, German, or Lower Slobbovian.

    • RW2013 says:

      Jeffrey Tate would go on and on about “Reggie” in a very adulatory way in Wagner rehearsals.

    • Anthony Kershaw says:

      An utter mediocrity, praised by certain Brits, and now, by your account, an enormous asshole.

      Let’s put him to bed once and for all.

      • Player says:

        Talk to the singers he trained… and the singers trained by the singers he trained…

        He was a giant figure in English music-making in the second half of the 20th century, who inspired affection and respect in those who worked with him.

  • esfir ross says:

    Oswald Moseley had a Jewish brother-in-law, half Jewish nephew. What an irony! OM wife Diane was Hitler lover.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      If you are describing her as Hitler’s lover rather than someone who loved and admired Hitler then I think you are mistaken.

  • Richard Craig says:

    Here,here,!! Michael B

  • Andrew Baker says:

    Very surprisingly James Harding in his biography of Satie wonders if Vaughan Henry was fictitious. Satie spoke well of him and knew him. He commissioned a fanfare from Satie and was a promoter of avant garde twenties composers.

  • Petros Linardos says:

    Obviously a disgraceful case. Yet the bigger picture is that in Slipped Disc world there are no good musicologists. The real world is very different.

  • Andrew Baker says:

    Antiques Roadshow recently brought to mind Sir Roderick Spode, later Lord Sidcup. Spode is P G Wodehouse’s parody of Moseley. I’ve not found any reference to this anywhere but the Roadshow was from the home of the Copelands whose business manufactured Spode pottery. Mrs Copeland beat Moseley in the 1931 election. Therefore the name Spode is a satire on Mosley’s embarrassing political defeat.

    By the bye I met Diana Mosley at the launch of the Lord Berners centenary exhibition so I am only two degrees of separation from Hitler. It’s a small world. These things are neither long ago nor far away.

  • Saxon Broken says:

    While I don’t doubt that MI5 had files on Vaughan-Henry, and plenty of other people with rather disgraceful views. And I don’t doubt that Vaughan-Henry would have welcomed a Nazi occupation. Nevertheless, I think it likely that the projected Nazi uprising he and his chums so eagerly anticipated, believing they would lead it, is little more than fantasy. Pretty much anyone who actually posed a threat was interned. (Moseley’s fascists, on the other hand, were potentially much more dangerous).