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Alan Richardson

Alan Richardson was born on 29 February 1904 in Edinburgh (Scotland). He learned the piano and worked as a pianist for the BBC in Scotland, before moving to London to study piano and composition under Harold Craxton at the Royal Academy of Music. Alan Richardson then worked as a pianist, he toured Australia and New Zealand in 1931 and was the accompanist for famous violinist Carl Flesch from 1936 to 1939. He also gave piano lectures at the Royal Academy of Music and was appointed professor in 1960, a position he held until his death. In 1961 Alan Richardson married renowned oboist Janet Craxton, the daughter of his former teacher Harold Craxton.
Alan Richardson died on 29 November 1978 in London.


Witold Lutoslawski composed the "Epitaph: in memoriam Alan Richardson, for oboe and piano" on commission of Janet Craxton shortly after the death of the composer. The instrumentation reflects the couple: oboe (=Janet Craxton) and piano (=Alan Richardson)


Alan Richardson also composed through his lifetime, mainly chamber music with an emphasis on piano and oboe. His first Piano Sonatina was premiered by himself at the Edinburgh Festival in 1949. His only orchestral piece is a "Junior concerto for piano and orchestra"


In my possession are 10 sketch books which Alan Richardson used to pen down ideas and complete compositions during the years 1934 to 1936. His earliest published composition - the "Roundelay for oboe and piano" - dates from 1935, so these sketch books contain the first compositions by Alan Richardson. To investigate which of these compositional ideas made it into completed works, one has to compare my sketch books with the manuscripts in the Alan Richardson Archive at the Royal Academy of Music Library. I didn't have the opportunity of a comparison so far and therefore can here only present details like titles from the sketch books:


The ten sketch books are all in 8vo format, nine of them are "Augener's Manuscript Music Books No.86 - A L No.63" and one is by "Bosworth & Co. B.C. No.26c". All writings are made by pencil. The sketch books are not numbered and there is no obvious order, but for the description I number them:

  1. Includes only piano compositions, one is titled "Bagatelle" and two other works have tempo markings "Andante con moto" and "Allegro moderato, poco maestro". A total of 32 pages, all filled.
  2. The title page bears the handwritten words "Completed Pieces for Piano Solo / April 1934". Included are the piano pieces "Seguidillas from 'Carmen' - freely transcribed A.R.", "Introduction", "Three pieces", "Novelette", "In quiet mood", "Rondo - The Non-Stop" and a short beginning of a piece for cello and piano. A total of 30 pages, all filled.
  3. The title page bears the handwritten words "Variations for pianoforte / Alan Richardson". Included are 11 variations for piano. The variations have the following tempo markings: Moderato, Quick, Simply, Quick and light, Vigorously, Cantabile: Moderato, Allegro moderato, Tempo primo, Cadenza and 3 without tempo markings. A total of 30 pages, all filled.
  4. Includes compositions for different settings. The first is "A la Sicilienne, for violin and piano", a "Naughty arrangement of Boccherini's 'Minuet', for piano", an untitled idea for piano, a continuation of "Orientale for two pianos" and a few bars for a work for viola and piano with tempo marking "Quasi recitativo". A total of 30 pages, 28 are filled. The back cover shows a handwritten note with calculations including "meats, shoes, suit, bracket, milk" and an address "Bruce Lockhart / 14A, Circus Road, N.W.8 / Primrose 6521".
  5. Includes only piano compositions. There are no titles and only a few tempo markings: "Moderato", "Allegro" and "Con moto". A total of 30 pages, 29 are filled. On the back cover is the handwritten note "3 Grosvenor Square at 6.30".
  6. The title page show the handwritten words "Rondel / Siciliana". The book contains several pages of a composition for 2 pianos, followed by a "Humoreske for piano", "Sicilienne (continued), for piano"and "Rondel for piano". A total of 22 pages, 21 are filled. On the back cover is a handwritten note "Guelda / Friday, 22nd / 3.30"
  7. The title page show the words "Piano / Sketches for sonata". Included are only piano compositions with tempo indications "Lento espressivo" and "Allegro". A total of 16 pages, all filled.
  8. Includes only piano compositions. On the first page after a few bars of a piano work the following list of headwords was penned down: Harmonic sub-structure / Decoration / Differenatiation of style / Harmonic in melodic condensation / Treatment of words / Management of Pedals / Management of Cadences / The building of bass - Strength of fundamental chords / Key distribution". Page 4 is titled "Practice specimens" and followed by piano accompaniments to Bach works "Das alte Jahr vergangen ist", Die Nacht ist kommen", "Ein feste Burg" and "Warum sollt ich mich denn grämen". Pages 8-11 show small complete movements for piano titled Andante - Andantino - Allegro - Vivace. An incomplete piano work is headed "Fast and full of beans". The composition on the last page is titled "Palestrina". A total of 22 pages, all filled. On the back cover is the handwritten note "Percy Buck - Unfigured Harmony (Oxford Press) / Chorales of Bach (Feldman) / Excercises in Composition - Frederick Corden".
  9. Includes only compositions for violin and piano. One work is titled "Bagatelle for violin and piano", other show only tempo indications "Lento, ma non troppo", "Allegro" and "Andante moderato". A total of 28 pages, all filled.
  10. This sketch book is the one by Bosworth & Co. Included are ideas for a piano concerto, penned down in short score. The beginning of "Sonnet, for violin and piano" and several pages of compositions for piano, one with the tempo indication "Allegretto con moto". A total of 24 pages, all filled. On the back cover is the handwritten note "Penn Studios / Rudall Crescent / N.W.3".
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