Alan and Margaret Hacker have lived in Broughton for the past 17 years. Alan came from the South though Alan’s mother was born in Saltburn and his grandmother in Keighley. Alan’s a Londoner from Battersea though. He had the advantage of a scholarship to Dulwich College which undoubtedly encouraged his music. In his third year at the Royal Academy of Music he joined the London Philharmonic Orchestra and was made a clarinet professor at the Academy (19 years old).
It was a spinal blood clot above the level of his chest that put him in a wheel chair and out of the London Philharmonic in 1966. He had had a great musical time there. Moreover the orchestra spent two months in India, the Far East and Australia: the first tour of a Western orchestra to those parts. Elgar’s Enigma Variations in an aircraft hanger with the steamy jungle outside, with us dressed in tails!
After the LPO he and Harrison Birtwistle put together a group, The Pierrot Players later followed by the Fires of London (Peter Maxwell Davies). These were the lead groups for contemporary music. After the Pierrot Players he has his own all music Group Matrix.
Pioneer in restoration
In classical music Alan was a pioneer of restoring and playing on classical instruments – with his Music Party and the Classical Orchestra which not only gave first modern performances in the York Early Music Festival (which was set up by Alan and others) but also Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in London.
By contrast with the LPO, Benjamin Britten supported his playing in the English Chamber Orchestra and at the Aldeborough Festival. His playing was sort after by film makers; he is a virtual soloist in the historic Thames Television World at War series for which he still receives royalties.
As important as anything else was his restoring of Mozart’s Concerto and Quintet to its original basset clarinet line along with reconstructing the forgotten Mozartian instrument in the 1960s.
After spending eight years at York University he embarked on a conducting career.
After reviving a 19c Swedish opera in Umeå in the North Alan took on another new first modern production this time with Opera North in Leeds; an opera by the 18 year old Mozart – Alan studying the score as Margaret drove to Moss Side Manchester for rehearsals.
There was a kind of repeat of this immediately after their honeymooon: Alan was asked to conduct in Cologne starting the following morning. During a drive to the Channel Tunnel he learnt Shostokovich’s 12th Symphony by torchlight. The next day after the concert we drove to Kracow: after that to Bochum and then Stuttgart! Stuttgart was the chief Opera House where he worked but there was also Vienna, Bonn, Paris, Halle, Berlin, Lille, Barcelona, Oldenzaal, Canada………….and this almost always meant loading up, or rather Margaret loading up the Volvo not only with clothes and some food but the wheel chair and all the medical equipment that has to accompany an incontinent paraplegic everywhere.
The last two operas he conducted in the U.K. were Handel’s Alcina at the Edinburgh Festival with the Stuttgart Opera Company and Birtwistle’s The Io Passion that he scored for Alan’s basset clarinet and string quartet.
Alan was awarded the O.B.E. in 1988 for services to music.
For nearly five years concerts were held during the summer months when professional and amateurs came to play. Everyone gave their services free and donations from the audience were given to a different charity each time.
Students from all over the world came to stay for various periods of time to study. Many still write and keep in close contact.
A great interest for both Alan and Margaret is Artlink, an organisation of which Alan is patron. People with learning difficulties are able to participate in the arts and the York group have the first singing, signing choir – Cubemedia.
We’ve had many musical occasions in our house in Broughton principally for our neighbours. On Alan’s 70th birthday we had eight friends playing Mozart, the last movement of Haydn’s 104th Symphony, The London Symphony and the first movement of Brahms fourth movement with many friends and neighbours.
Submitted by Margaret Hacker 2011
See here for more photos which were supplied by Alan and Margaret Hacker.
Alan Hacker died on the 16th April 2012 after a long battle with illness during which he was cared for by Margaret.
I felt privileged to have known him, albeit for a short time, and to have been given the opportunity to include him on our website. Many enjoyed listening to his music floating over the air on summer evenings and he will be missed by those in Broughton who knew him as well as his many friends and associates in the musical world.
Gill Woodhead (Web Editor).
The FUNERAL SERVICE for Alan will be held at 2pm on Friday 4th May 2012 at the Octon Crematorium at Octon Cross Road, Langtoft, Driffield, North Humberside.