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Patrick Hadley

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Name  Patrick Hadley

Role  Composer
Patrick Hadley wwwgeocitiescojpNatureLand5390impressionist
Died  December 17, 1973, King's Lynn, United Kingdom
Books  Patrick Hadley: My Beloved Spake (New Engraving - Satb/Piano)
Education  Winchester College, Royal College of Music, Pembroke College, Cambridge
Similar People  Boris Ord, Kenneth Leighton, Vlaams Radiokoor, Henry Gauntlett, Edward Bairstow

King s college cambridge 2012 5 i sing of a maiden patrick hadley

Patrick Arthur Sheldon Hadley (5 March 1899 – 17 December 1973) was a British composer.


My beloved spake patrick hadley winchester college


Patrick Sheldon Hadley was born on 5 March 1899 in Cambridge. His father, William Sheldon Hadley, was at that time a fellow of Pembroke College. His mother, Edith Jane, was the daughter of the Revd Robert Foster, chaplain to the Royal Hibernian Military School in Dublin.

Patrick attended St Ronan's Preparatory School at West Worthing, London and Winchester College. However the First World War interrupted his education. He enlisted in the army and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery. He managed to survive unscathed until the last weeks of the war, when he received an injury necessitating the below knee amputation of his right leg. This profoundly damaged his confidence and also caused him to perhaps drink more than was wise; he was in constant pain, for which alcohol provided some relief.

Patrick's elder brother Peyton Sheldon Hadley, a former pupil of Charterhouse School, who served in the infantry, was also wounded in the closing months of the War. He was invalided home to convalesce, but died of pneumonia that October. A memorial to Peyton is found in the Charterhouse School Chapel.

After the war Patrick went up to Pembroke College, Cambridge, where by now his father was Master. He was fortunate to study with both Charles Wood and the English composer Cyril Rootham. Hadley was awarded B.Mus. in 1922, and an MA in 1925. He then went to the Royal College of Music in London. Here he came under the influence of Ralph Vaughan Williams for composition and Adrian Boult and Malcolm Sargent for conducting. Eric Weatherell notes that Hadley's contemporaries at the RCM included Constant Lambert and Gordon Jacob. He won the Sullivan prize for composition: at that time the sum of 5 shillings.

He became a member of the RCM staff in 1925 and taught composition. He became acquainted with Frederick Delius (Eric Fenby describes the role played by Hadley in recovering the long-lost score of Delius's early opera Koanga), E. J. Moeran, Sir Arnold Bax, William Walton, Alan Rawsthorne, and Herbert Howells.

During 1937–38 Hadley assisted his friend and former teacher Cyril Rootham (by then terminally ill) in completing his Second Symphony. Acting as amanuensis, Hadley and others took dictation and transcribed the entire sketch for the symphony and the orchestration of the first two movements. At Rootham's request, Hadley also completed the orchestration of the final movement after the composer's death in March 1938.

In 1938 Hadley was elected to a Fellowship at Gonville and Caius College in Cambridge and appointed as a lecturer in the music faculty. Much of his time was spent in run of the mill administrative activities, but there was still time available for composition. Some of his greatest works were written during and after the war.

During the Second World War he deputised for Boris Ord as conductor and musical director of the Cambridge University Music Society. There he introduced a number of important works, including Delius' Appalachia and The Song of the High Hills. He was keen to promote a wide range of music, including the formation of a Gilbert and Sullivan Society. Much of his time was spent in making arrangements for the use of the "chaps" in the choir. Sadly, few of these have survived. We know them only from programme notes and hearsay. In 1946 he was elected to the Chair of Music at Cambridge University. He retained this post until his retirement in 1962. Some of the students taught by Hadley have gone on to make big names for themselves: Raymond Leppard, Sir David Lumsden, Patrick Gowers, Philip Ledger and Peter le Huray.

In 1962 Hadley retired to Heacham in Norfolk. He wished to pursue his interest in folk song collection. However, he latterly struggled with throat cancer and this caused many of his activities to be suspended. Patrick Hadley died on 17 December 1973 at King's Lynn. He was 74 years old.


Patrick Hadley was influenced by the music of Frederick Delius and also to a certain extent folk music. But there were other non-musical influences in his life too: Ireland and Norfolk gave him a profound sense of landscape and location. His output was limited. He found the business of composing quite exhausting. Most people think of Hadley as composer of one or two church anthems: I Sing of a Maiden and the mildly exotic My Beloved spake. The catalogue shows a wide variety of musical forms: from a symphonic ballad to incidental music for Twelfth Night. However, there are no cycles of symphonies, concertos, or string quartets. He maintained throughout his a career a sense of the lyrical. Not for him was the experimental music of the Second Vienna School. He had an exceptional understanding of how to set words to music. Much of his music is meditative and quite inward looking.

As noted by Bernard Benoliel, in many ways Hadley is a link between Vaughan Williams and Benjamin Britten. For example, the first movement of The Trees so High anticipates in some respects the opening movement of Vaughan Williams's Fifth Symphony, while the 'Taxal Woods' scene from The Hills has a sparely atmospheric, Britten-like quality.


One of Hadley's undoubted masterpieces is his Symphonic Ballad: The Trees So High, completed in 1931, and first performed in Cambridge the following year. It was at one stage described by Hadley as a 'symphony in A minor'. This work, for baritone, chorus, and full orchestra, uses the melodic framework of the Somerset folksong of that name. The work is in four movements, though it is only in the last movement that Hadley deploys the chorus and soloist, quoting the folksong explicitly in its entirety. Hadley likened his technique in this work to ‘three independent brooks which flow into one stream at the beginning of the finale’. A shorter, but important, choral work, La Belle Dame sans merci followed in 1935. This 'short masterpiece' sets the well-known poem by Keats and lasts approximately 10 minutes in performance.

The Hills was completed in 1944 and is perhaps the finest of Hadley's cantatas, the other two being Fen and Flood and Connemara, both dating from the 1950s. The Hills has strong autobiographical links, dealing with the meeting, courtship and marriage of his parents, introduced retrospectively by the narrator (bass soloist) as he returns after his mother's death to the landscape where these events once took place. Hadley wrote: 'I lost my mother in 1940 and that set my mind to the Derbyshire hills where she met my father.' Many specific local place-names are quoted in the text. As Christopher Palmer notes, the emotion which the composer is ever concerned to communicate is ecstasy.

Fen and Flood was completed in 1955: its text both provides a history of the Norfolk Fens and commemorates the devastating floods that hit the North Norfolk coast on the night of 31 January 1953. Originally performed in 1955 by reduced forces, including a male voice chorus, it was arranged by Vaughan Williams for fuller forces, including a mixed chorus, to increase the chances of the work being performed. At the first performance of the expanded version in 1956 one of the soloists was Fred Calvert, the King's Lynn Superintendent of Police who had directed the emergency operations during the floods. The text he sang was the words he used during the emergency!

Hadley wrote little for orchestra alone: purely instrumental music did not hold much attraction for him. Perhaps the gentlest introduction to Hadley is his short orchestral work One Morning in Spring, which was composed to celebrate Ralph Vaughan Williams' seventieth birthday in 1942. It is a fine example of an English tone poem. The early orchestral sketch Kinder Scout is still in manuscript and is, as yet, unrecorded.

Hadley's last major work was his Lenten Meditations (also known as A Lenten Cantata or A Cantata for Lent), which was completed in 1962. This is a setting of Biblical texts, written for tenor and bass soloists, chorus and orchestra with organ.

Although Hadley was best of friends with Ralph Vaughan Williams, he was not so drawn into the folk song revival. Still, much of his music has subtle folk characteristics.

Many of the shorter works in the composer's output, such as anthems for liturgical use, were connected with the choir of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. He also made a number of arrangements of works in many different genres, from Verdi's Stabat Mater to Waltzing Matilda.


  • La Belle Dame sans merci: Neill Archer (tenor), Philharmonia Chorus, Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Matthias Bamert, 1992, reissued on CD as Chandos CHAN 241-22.
  • Fen and Flood, arranged by Ralph Vaughan Williams for soloists, mixed chorus and orchestra: Mary Bevan (soprano), Leigh Melrose (baritone), Joyful Company of Singers, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Paul Daniel, 2010, issued on Albion Records ALBCD 012.
  • The Hills, Felicity Palmer (soprano), Robert Tear (tenor), Robert Lloyd (bass), Cambridge University Musical Society Chorus, London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Philip Ledger, 1975, reissued on CD as EMI CDM 5 67118 2.
  • I sing of a maiden: Choir of King's College, Cambridge and Francis Grier (organ), conducted by Philip Ledger, 1975, reissued on CD as EMI CDM 5 67118 2.
  • Lenten Meditations: Neill Archer (tenor), Stephen Richardson (bass), Leslie Pearson (organ), Philharmonia Chorus, Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Matthias Bamert, 1992, reissued on CD as Chandos CHAN 241-22.
  • My beloved spake: Choir of King's College, Cambridge and James Lancelot (organ), conducted by Sir David Willcocks, 1973, reissued on CD as EMI CDM 5 67118 2.
  • One Morning in Spring: London Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Sir Adrian Boult, 1979, reissued on Lyrita SRCD 245.
  • One Morning in Spring: Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Matthias Bamert, 1992, reissued on CD as Chandos CHAN 241-22.
  • The Trees so High: David Wilson-Johnson (baritone), Philharmonia Chorus, Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Matthias Bamert, 1992, reissued on CD as Chandos CHAN 241-22.
  • The Trees so High: Thomas Allen (baritone), Guildford Philharmonic Choir, New Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Vernon Handley, 1979, reissued on CD as Lyrita SRCD 238.
  • References

    Patrick Hadley Wikipedia