Hudleston Music

The Return to England

Hudleston retired from the Civil Service in May, 1855, but remained in Madras for another year. In March 1856, he returned to England, probably for the first time in 39 years. By October, he was living with his brother Robert in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. Cheltenham, known affectionately as “the town of colonels and curries”, was a haven for retired East India Company employees; it was also often host to many renowned musicians, including Giulio Regondi, who appeared there in November. I am quite certain that Hudleston met Regondi in Cheltenham that November. Soon afterwards, Hudleston began copying out music from his collection for Regondi, and in 1857 Regondi dedicated his Studies – the now famous Ten Etudes – to Hudleston.

Hudleston wasted no time in seeking out the most important figures of the British guitar world. He appears to have known Carl Eulenstein (who dedicated Le Retour de l’Allemagne to him), at least one of the Ciebras (to whom Hudleston dedicated an Air with Variations), and the Huertas. He certainly knew Madame R. Sidney Pratten, who published a few of Hudlestons compositions and arrangements during the late 1850s or early 1860s, and for whom he copied out many pieces from his collection. Two volumes of these copies were recently discovered by Stefan Hackl in the Karl Scheit Collection in Vienna. One volume contains the earliest known source for eight of the ten Studies by Regondi, as well as another newly-discovered Regondi work, Air varié de l’opera de Bellini "I Capuleti e i Montecchi", now published by Editions Orphee.(Opens a new window)

Hudleston may have also known Leonard Schulz, or at least he may have attempted to meet him. Hudleston and his wife are named – in an ‘indirect’ dedication – on the title pages of Madame Pratten’s edition of Schulz’s last compositions.
    Schulz: The last compositions, nos. 1-3. (Opens a new window)
    Schulz: The last compositions, nos. 4-8. (Opens a new window)

Hudleston was in Cheltenham for only one year, moving on to Killiney, County Dublin, Ireland, in 1857. He surely met with Regondi again in April 1861, when Regondi appeared three times at the Antient Concert Rooms in Dublin, and he continued his correspondence with Madame Pratten. He continued composing and arranging music for the guitar until the last year of his life. Hudleston died, from heart disease, in Greenhill, Killiney, on the 19 August 1865. Thanks to the diligent work of Anthony Coulthard, we now know that he is buried in Carrickbrennan Cemetery, Monkstown, County Dublin, Ireland.

Although there is no evidence of Hudleston performing in public, it is obvious from the music he left behind that he was profoundly familiar with the guitar. During the four decades Hudleston lived in India – from the beginning of the English guitar boom, when Fernando Sor appeared on the scene, to the days of the great virtuosos such as Regondi and Schulz – the guitar and guitar music saw a remarkable development, and it is most fascinating to see how Hudleston managed to follow it.

Hudleston’s collection of music – for guitar and for several other instruments – is now held by The Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin. The collection of guitar music was first discovered by Simon Honeyman, who began the work of re-assembling it. I continued that work, and made a detailed catalogue in 1997, which has now been substantially revised and will be available soon. The collection is enormous: the guitar music collection alone contains more than 1,000 printed works and more than 800 works in manuscript, making it larger than the Rischel and Birkett-Smith, Boije or Olcott-Bickford collections. All of the works in the collection are by contemporaries of Hudleston. The printed editions contain fingerings (always very well chosen), and notes and comments written in ink or pencil about when and for whom he had copied the works, or from whom he had received them. Although he indicated that he copied many pieces for Regondi, and we now know that Regondi’s Studies were dedicated to him, the collection inexplicably contains no work by Regondi himself.

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