The Pleasure of Working with Patrick

by Lionel Harrison

JP has asked if I would like to write more about my work with Patrick because he thinks others might find our story interesting and enlightening and may even be inspired to follow in Patrick’s and my footsteps regarding research and follow-through. I am honoured to do so and below are the resulting musings.

Anybody who’s written anything of any substance will be aware that it’s very difficult to proof-read one’s own work accurately. The problem is that we see what we expect to see, rather than what’s actually there. Imagine, then, that you have to proof-read not just in one dimension horizontally, as you do with text, but in two, as you have to with a musical score, especially an orchestral one with maybe forty staves in the vertical dimension. It was this challenge that brought Patrick and me together.

As I mentioned in my earlier tribute, back at the beginning of the century I had bought from Patrick a score and parts of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Piano Quintet, an edition that Patrick had prepared so that he could mount a performance at his and Stephanie’s annual chamber music festival in Deià.  Patrick’s source was the composer’s manuscript which had lain, undisturbed since 1893, in the library of the Royal College of Music in London. On receiving it, I thought I spotted a couple of typos which I drew to Patrick’s attention and about which, after another examination of the manuscript, he subsequently confirmed I was correct.

It was at this point that Patrick told me he’d also produced editions of Coleridge-Taylor’s Nonet and Piano Trio, and asked me if I would be prepared to peruse those for any similar glitches. I had been a fan of Coleridge-Taylor’s music since I had been engaged to conduct Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast in 1977, and so I jumped at the chance. Patrick sent me copies of the scores and parts, and photocopies of Coleridge-Taylor’s manuscripts and I set to with gusto, and we developed a system of working that we adhered to over the next fifteen years, but which sadly didn’t demand as many visits from London to Deià as I might have liked! Sometimes our source material was a full score, sometime a set of parts from which we had to create a full score but either way it was fun.

In addition to his pet projects for the festival, Patrick received commissions from conductors and record companies to produce performance materials for works that had never been printed, for example, Paul Dukas’ Goetz de Berlichingen, overture for orchestra (1883) and English composer Frederick Cliffe’s Violin Concerto (1896).

He was also engaged to produce performance materials for pieces whose original parts had long-since vanished, often as the result of hire libraries and music warehouses having been bombed during World War II. Additionally, orchestral performance materials were sometimes unavailable because the metal printing plates for these parts had been melted down for munitions. Examples of these projects were Philipp Scharwenka’s Arkadische Suite; Robert Hermann’s 2nd Symphony; and Franz Xaver Schnyder von Wartensee’s Overture. Having retired from my government service job in 2006, I was privileged to have the time to proof-read all these projects for Patrick.

Patrick trawled libraries around the world to try to locate forgotten yet interesting music that could be performed at the festival but even after Stephanie had passed away and Patrick relinquished his directorship of the festival, he continued to look for music that he found rewarding, some of which required more editorial input from me, depending on the completeness of the manuscript sources. Naturally, he was keen on reviving American music and we undertook a raft of editions of orchestral and chamber music by the Philadelphia-based William Wallace Gilchrist (1846-1916), and the unpublished Cello Concerto of Arthur Foote (1853-1937) a member of the “Boston Six” (otherwise known as the “Second New England School” of composers).

However, it was to Coleridge-Taylor that we returned most often, producing editions of his Symphony in A Minor (1896), the Ballade for Violin and Orchestra op. 4, his orchestral transcriptions of five of his op. 59 Negro Melodies (1905) (the incompleteness of which required yours truly to actually compose some woodwind parts in one number to render the suite performable!) and ultimately the mammoth task of his grand opera Thelma; the full score, vocal score, parts and libretto ran into thousands of pages and would have daunted a man twenty years younger than Patrick then was. This was a labour of love for both of us: the manuscript had been thought lost or destroyed but musicologist Catherine Carr discovered it languishing in the depths of the British Library and we set to with relish. It may be its composer’s masterpiece…

The fact that Coleridge-Taylor’s music is now perilously close to being regarded as mainstream repertoire is in large part due to Patrick’s efforts. There are now four commercially available recordings of the Piano Quintet, for example. JP was recently contacted by a Grammy Award-winning American conductor, seeking information regarding Coleridge-Taylor’s Ballade for Violin and Orchestra op. 4 and trying to find out about the source material that we’d used to create our edition because he is putting together an album to celebrate Coleridge-Taylor’s music with a major label, working towards a release in 2025, which would be the composer’s 150th birthday. As this conductor observed, he is “hoping to forward Mr. Meadows’ legacy for his work for Mr. Coleridge-Taylor.”

Patrick has been gone almost seven years; I still think of him daily and treasure the memory of our friendship. I like to think he’d be quietly proud that his legacy does, indeed, move forward.