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PATRICK HADLEY 1899-1973

by Andrew Seivewright


No doubt many people remember their University, or College, class as being of vintage quality. Certainly hindsight suggests that the Cambridge Music Faculty around 1950 was an instance for special mention. Sitting along the row from me at Music School lectures would be Raymond Leppard, David Lumsden;and Peter le Huray (alas now late and lamented);and also very much in evidence the composer David Barlow, together with Bernard Keeffe, Kenneth Mobbs, John Clegg, whose specialisation in mathematics did not prevent him from playing the piano in a way that put music students to shame; and of course, George Guest, just beginning to carve a name out for himself at St.John’s. Space forbids the mention of others.

Among the senior members of the Faculty too there were those with real gifts to offer to undergraduates, some of whom had been to some extent starved of musical activities in Service life. For my part I had returned to King’s after four years in the RAF, opting to change from Classics to Music. Curiously enough my own interest in the arts had been fuelled in the RAF where I was lucky enough to meet many kindred spirits, including a group in Winnipeg that centred around the unbelievably talented Richard Burton. But he was in a class apart!

To return to the Cambridge musical scene, there were two members of the Faculty to whom I shall always be especially grateful - Robin Orr, later Professor, who it seemed to me brought sanity and humour to the Department, as well as his distinguished musical acoomplishments, and Patrick Hadley who figures later as the principal subject of this memoir.

But for Robin’s intervention I doubt if I should have survived longer than the Preliminary examination, for I arrived in the St. John’s organ-loft minus one of the three prescribed performing requirement pieces. Brushing aside the protestations of his co-examiner, the professor-to-be unearthed Parry’s "Rockingham" from a nearby pile of organ music. "How about that?" It was fine, and I retain a great affection for that particular piece! A typical example of Robin’s kindness from which in later years I, like many others, was to benefit. After Cambridge there was always a prompt and generous Reference to support job applications. A broadcast of the Short Service from Carlisle Cathedral would evoke a similarly generous response, whatever the imperfections may have been.

After this rather lengthy preamble I should like to turn to the central figure of this discursive memoir, the then Professor of Music, Patrick Hadley, whose composition student I became. First-name relationships between undergraduates and dons seemed common at the time (a welcome change from the ‘sir’ of & School and Service), and the Professor quickly became ‘Paddy’ (indeed it was hard to think of him in any other way). He was the most lovable of characters; and the Supervisions that I had in his room at Caius, which went on and on, are among my most cherished University memories.

Although discussions could be, and were far-ranging over the contemporary musical scene, Paddy could also be spot-on about a particular musical process - "I say, why not alternate E minor with an A Flat six-four?" Helpful advice indeed! But to a raw undergraduate it was his easy familiarity with the world of British music that was so fascinating: Ralph and Willie and what they had said and done, not to mention Moeran and Constant Lambert, and, looking further back, Delius.

I still chuckle at the passage in chapter 10 of ‘Delius as I knew him’ where Eric Fenby describes how Paddy arrives at Grez, appropriately enough just in time for the wine-bottling. This went swimmingly; but a subsequent escapade in a boat results in fellow-composer Balfour Gardiner heading down river towards the weir minus an oar, with Paddy and Fenby trying (all too late!) to drop the missing implement over the village bridge. Somehow this sort of episode, together with Paddy’s other anecdotes really brought the English 20th century musical scene to life: and he was so much a part of it. * As Neil Tierney writes in relation to a 1941 Walton concert in Cambridge: "Immediately after the performance we sat in Paddy Hadley’s room at Caius College, laughing and arguing about life and music with Constant Lambert, Alan Rawsthorne, Hadley and Bliss" etc. "La Bohème" vividly came to life in Cambridge! (And going back to Delius, it is nice to recall with Fenby that it was thanks to Hadley’s efforts that the score and parts of the lost opera "Koanga" were recovered).

Paddy loved conviviality and this took in Supervisions as well as post-concert parties. In our then ignorance about the perils of smoking he would begin each session by opening a rather grand cigarette case but find to his oontinual surprise that it was empty. After I had come to the rescue he would offer a neat gin to which one might add a little water. (Tonic and the British barman’s reluctant ‘With ice and lemon?’ were not then standard.) After looking at my own work, we would then discuss composers in general and their expertise (Milhaud, I remember scored 100%), and the Professor’s forthcoming activities.

As Charles Cudworth, the then University Music Librarian pointed out to me, Paddy regarded many of his academic duties as an affront to hedonistic propensities. "I’ve got to examine some students to-morrow", he would say plaintively, "I’m not looking forward to that". There seemed a desperate hope that someone, however humble, might turn into a deus ex machina, and help him to avoid the chore in question.

Certainly his attendance at lectures could not be guaranteed. When they did take place he had a refreshing approach. "You and I would have set this for male voices", he said of ‘Lord is it I?’ from the Bach St. Matthew Passion, and then he took off in his own individual way.

Like other University characters such as Sir John Sheppard, Provost of King’s, Paddy had many imitators, most of whom succeeded in sounding like the received impersonation, and not much like Paddy himself. Charisma he possessed in abundance, much I suspect to the annoyance of at least one of his more conscientious and ambitious colleagues; but more distinguished pens than mine will tell of his standing in the Faculty.

  • ‘William Walton - His Life and Music’ (Robert Hall)

These are the random reflections of one who was fortunate enough to have such a contact as an undergraduate, and to renew it from time to time afterwards. Like Robin Orr, Paddy was both efficient and generous over references. Similar encouragement came after broadcast performances: "Thank you for the "Spook" ran the note from Shallcross following a BBC Choral Evensong from Carlisle Cathedral that featured "My Beloved Spake" as the anthem. ("My Beloved Spook" it was known as at King’s, and eventually, just "The Spook".) What an exquisite miniaturist Hadley was: "I sing of a maiden" remains for me the most inspired setting of these words. Lovely too is the soaring "The babe in Bethlehem’s manger laid" - ‘my slow waltz’! Well, a carol is meant to be a dance anyway.

Mention of Carlisle Cathedral reminds me of an early performance of the Lenten Cantata, with Wilfred (Bill) Brown singing, beautifully as ever, the ‘Love unknown’ section. Elsewhere in the piece I recall Paddy commenting on the ‘hanging down’ notes in the organ part: "Oh no 16-foot pedal?" I volunteered. "I leave that to you, Andrew", he replied with characteristic Olympian detachment from the mechanics of organ registration. The performance, part of one of the St. Bees’ Festivals, was given from manuscript in my recollection.

To my request that he might consider writing some Evening Canticles for the Cathedral, Paddy replied that Boris Ord had asked him for the same thing many years earlier. He declined, adding as an aside, "I say - that Magnificat - its very RED, isn’t it?"

1998 and 1999 will mark 25 years since the death, and 100 years since the birth of Patrick Hadley. Hopefully these years will see some fitting performances, and more detailed comment than this present memoir: it was good to read Eric Wetherell’s article.

I still have Philip Ledger’s LP of The Hills and look forward to a CD of The Trees so High, and at least a chance to assess Connemara. To my delight I learned fram BMS that there is already a recording of The Lenten Cantata: it will be fascinating to hear it again after a long interval.

I have several times been asked for personal recollections of Paddy fram those connected with the British Music Society and elsewhere. My putting pen to paper has in this instance been prompted by an enquiry fram a postgraduate Musicology student researching into the life and tunes of P.A.S.H. I find it a matter for rejoicing that he has been drawn to writing of this wonderful late flowering of Romanticism, and of a composer whose output, though not prolific, forms an essential part of it.

© Andrew Seivewright Master of the Music Emeritus, Carlisle Cathedral


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