I first met Alan in about 1935-6 when he and his (first) wife, Jessie, lived in Belsize Park, fairly near where we lived. After the war I returned to the Oxford University Press and took charge of the Music Department which - understandably enough - was in a bit of disarray. O.U.P. had flirted with Alan pre-war, and it was my first main job to persuade composers such as him - and Walton - to return to O.U.P. and enter into a firm contract. When Alan came by appointment to see me, he told me, in his inimitable dry way, that he had recently had an approach from another publisher, Boosey and Hawkes. Out of the blue he had had a summons from Dr. Kalmus, then in a senior position at B & H, to go to see him. Alan didn't know him and was mystified as to why he had been thus summoned. At the interview they sat opposite each other at a desk. Kalmus looked (but was not) sinister with his black hair and long black beard. To begin with they had talked about nothing much (the weather, cricket etc.), then in mid-sentence Kalmus reared himself up from his chair and hissed at Alan: "Mr Rawsthorne, we here at Boosey and Hawkes would like to tie you up!". Alan evaded that and I was able on O.U.P's behalf, and with great pleasure, to 'tie him up' until his death.
Alan could not be hurried: he kept a set of proofs eight years before correcting and returning it - the work was not a particularly important one anyway. He told me he was only impelled to send the proofs back because I apparently wrote him a letter opening: "Once upon a time, when we were both very young, I sent you proofs Etc.".
Alan's seeming gentleness of manner often concealed a barbed cutting edge. At a rehearsal at the B.B.C. Maida Vale studios I sat with him while the orchestra, conducted by an English conductor of some ability but a shade too pleased with himself, played through a work of his: at the end, the conductor (rather preening himself) turned round and said: "Well Mr Rawsthorne, any comment?" After a pause Alan said quietly: "No, I don't think so .... unless perhaps.... do you think .... possibly the orchestra could play it a bit better."
We had a bizarre experience together at Wigmore Hall. It was a piano duet recital given by two excellent ladies, Helen Pyke and Natalie Karp and, to enhance the piscatorial aspect, the programme included Alan's The Creel (after Izaak Walton's 'The Compleat Angler'). One short movement of this suite is called: 'The Sprat', and is in strict and very rapid canon between the primo an secondo, the latter entering a quaver after the former. As luck would have it, or rather ill luck, the two ladies entered together and remained together, playing octaves throughout. I said to Alan afterwards in the green room: "Well, how did you get on with that one?". He thought for a second, then answered: "You know, I've often had the experience of seeing double - but hearing single is far more terrifying."
Alan and his second wife, lsabel, lived in a (then) pretty remote village in Essex. I have forgotten which work it was but it was a commission and the first performance date was fixed. He was well behind and parts had to be copied. The safest and quickest way to get sections of the work to me and finished was to use Jenning's Bus which parked in a field near Alan's and made a daily journey to King's Cross. 1, or one of my colleagues, would meet the bus at King's Cross and the driver would hand over whatever Alan had finished overnight. The driver got quite involved in this race against time. One morning he would cheerfully hand over a quite substantial portion of score: the next morning he would say: "Not much today, I'm afraid things didn't go well last night." The work was finished in time and I think it should have been dedicated to JENNING'S BUS.
Taken from THE CREEL, the Journal of the Friends of Alan Rawsthorne and Rawsthorne Trust, Vol. 1 No.3 Autumn 1990