Patrick Hadley was born in Cambridge on 5th March 1899. His father, William Sheldon Hadley was at that time a fellow of Pembroke College. His mother, Edith Jane, was the daughter of Rev. Robert Foster, Chaplain to the Royal Hibernian Military School in Dublin.
Patrick studied initially at St Ronan's Preparatory School at West Worthing and then at 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 that resulted in his right leg being amputated below the knee. This had a profound effect on his confidence and also caused him to perhaps drink more than was wise; alcohol acted as relief for the considerable pain he was constantly in. Hadley's elder brother was himself killed in action during the Great War.
After the War he went up to Pembroke College, Cambridge. He was fortunate to study with both Charles Wood and the undervalued English composer, Cyril Rootham. Hadley was awarded Mus. B 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 Weatherall 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 princely sum of 5/-.
He eventually became a member of the RCM staff in 1925 and taught composition. He became aquainted with Delius (see Eric Fenby's account in 'Delius as I knew him') E.J. Moeran, Sir Arnold Bax, William Walton, Alan Rawsthorne and Herbert Howells. In fact his friends are a litany of all that was best in English Music at that time.
In 1938 he was offered a Fellowship of Gonville and Caius College in Cambridgeshire and a position as lecturer at Cambridge University. Much of his time was spent in run of the mill activities associated with the administration of the music faculty. However, 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 the 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. However, most of these have not survived. We know them only from programmes 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, David Lumsden and Peter le Huray.
In 1962 Hadley retired to his house at Heacham. 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 17th December 1973 at Kings Lynn. He was 74 years old.
Originally Published on MusicWeb International