Alan Hutt: My First, My Last, My Everything - May
International trombone artist Ian Bousfield’s recent excellent podcast No 25 referred in part to the art of second trombone playing:
( check it out here: Ian Bousfield Podcast No 25 )
It therefore seems right that the first guest of my new monthly series of interviews entitled: My First, My Last, My Everything is one of the finest second trombone players ever: Alan Hutt.
Alan is a wonderful teacher, a modest, kind and humble man. All those who have had the privilege of working with, or been taught by Alan regard him, quite rightly, as a legend.
Alan has had a distinguished career as a member of wonderful trombone sections in both the RPO and Covent Garden for many years. He has a huge catalogue of film recording sessions to his name as well as recording with The Beatles, Pink Floyd and many others.
I hope you enjoy this interview I undertook with Alan. I have known him for 34 years and even now I have found out a little bit more about this remarkable man.
MY FIRST, MY LAST, MY EVERYTHING
First Live Musical Experience You Can Remember?
Being a very nervous 5 year old at a piano festival in Leicester.
First Musical Instrument Owned?
My father bought me a piano after taking Grade 8 and it is still going strong after 60 years. The one I learnt on was an old pub cast off, awfully out of tune and clanky.
First Music Lesson You Can Remember and Who Taught You?
At age 4 I started piano lessons with Violet Moore, sister of Wigston Town Band’s conductor, Ted Moore. The Moore’s were a musical family that owned a musical instrument shop in South Wigston and the band practiced in the room above, where there were serpents and other ancient instruments hanging up or on the top of cupboards. Violet Moore was very strict, completely humorless and regularly inflicted pain by tapping me across the knuckles with any object that came to hand. The same sort of brutality that was handed out in schools in those days, perhaps the after effects of the 2nd world war.
First Trombone Owned?
I borrowed instruments from the band until I chose the trombone as my favourite. Eventually my Dad got me a Selmar. When I gained a place in the NYO the County Director of Music, Eric Pinkett bought me a B flat and F Boosey to have on loan.
First Music Ensemble You Played In?
Wigston Town Band - https://www.wigstonbrassband.com
First Concert You Can Remember Performing in on Trombone?
There were many in the early years and they all blend into each other but one of the most memorable was playing for Adrian Boult with the Leicestershire County Youth Orchestra at the De Montfort Hall in Leicester.
First Record You Can Remember Buying?
Bruckner’s 9th Symphony on 78s, which I still have, with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra. I was lucky enough to play for Ormandy with the RPO in my 20s.
Who Was The First Trombone Player To Inspire You?
My father, who was a multi- instrumentalist. We would eventually play duets together, although we often had to pack it in because we used to laugh so much. Tommy Dorsey was my idol.
First Playing Position in an Orchestra?
1st trombone with the Leicestershire County Youth Orchestra and then 1st with the Leicester Symphony Orchestra. Professionally,2nd trombone with the RPO.
First Recording Session You Played On?
I really cannot remember, there were so many, the RPO spent a lot of time recording film scores out at Denham Studios. I think Out of Africa was an early one for me. My earliest recollections were with the Phillip Jones ensemble, recording early brass music with myself, John Iveson, Roger Brenner on trombones and Phillip Jones and Gary Howarth on trumpets, directed by Josh Rifkin at a Marble Arch studio.
First Brass Teaching Post?
Whitgift Trinity School, Croydon, the Director of Music was also the critic for the local paper and that is how I got the job, the RPO regularly performed at the Fairfield Halls in Croydon.
First Overseas Tour You Took Part In?
Professionally with the RPO to the USA in 1966 when I shared first trombone with Evan Watkin and Roger Groves came as 2nd.
First Ensemble You Conducted?
Kent Youth Wind Orchestra. - Kent County Youth Wind Orchestra
First Car You Owned?
Austin Cambridge, bought in Folkestone whilst playing at the Leas Cliff Hall with the RPO.
Last Concert You Performed In?
At La Scala, Milan with a freelance orchestra and the Nureyev Ballet in 1987.
Last Recording You Bought or Downloaded?
Songs of the Auvergne with Victoria de los Angeles. - "Baïlèro"; from Songs of the Auvergne with Victoria de los Angeles
Last Recording Session You Played On?
Again difficult to remember but Prokoviev’s Romeo and Juliet with the Covent Garden Orchestra must have been close.
Last Orchestral Tour You Undertook?
Apart from the La Scala trip which wasn’t really a tour as such, there was Los Angeles with Covent Garden in 1984 during the Arts Festival as part of the Olympic Games celebrations.
Last Book You Read?
Donna Leon’s latest - “Unto us a son is born”
Last Film You Watched?
I am not a great film fan but have had to endure Despicable Me and Nanny Mcfee with the grandchildren.
Last Concert You Attended As An Audience Member?
The last serious concert I attended was in New York at the Carnegie Hall with the Philadelphia Orchestra in the 90s. I have been to local outdoor band concerts and Truro cathedral for lunchtime organ recitals as well as Monteverdi’s Vespers, when Emily White was playing the baroque violin.
Favourite Instrument You Owned?
Conn 10H trombone and still have it in the attic.
Proudest Musical Moment?
Playing for Benjamin Britten and Stravinsky. But lots more as well as some less proud memories, but we tend to remember the good ones thank goodness.
Which Concert Venue(s) In The World Did You Used To Look Forward To Playing In?
Vienna and Carnegie Halls, wonderful acoustics make playing so easy.
Who Were The Conductor(s) You Enjoyed Playing For and Why?
Carlos Kleiber- sheer genius and nice with it. Rudolf Kempe-wonderful command of the orchestra- he never used a score and the Strauss Tone Poems were his forte.. Haitink- made it all so comfortable and easy. Boult- he wasn’t a brilliant conductor but his tempos were always so right. Britten-such a phenomenal musician.
If You Could Play One Piece of Orchestral Music Now What Would That Be?
Any of the Brahms symphonies but a special memory of Evan Watkin’s last concert was the 4th at the Carnegie Hall, absolute perfection and Rudolf Kempe walked right through the Orchestra to shake his hand at the end.
Which Countries Did You Enjoy Performing In and Why?
America has to be top of the list, local professionals were so generous and lavished praise and hospitality wherever we went. Germany, because their concert halls are so good to play in coupled with the huge respect offered to professional musicians.
What Book or Photograph Would You Most Like To Have Forever?
A compendium of P.G.Wodehouse, his writing is so perfect and reading the books always cheers me up. A photograph of my wife with our 3 children and the 8 Grandchildren.
The Best Piece Advice You Were Given?
Lots of advice picked up over the years but the one I think is perfect for performers is not to dwell on a bad performance, put it out of your mind, tomorrow is another day. I know of so many colleagues who would fret themselves into a bad place through worrying about even the smallest mistake.
The Best Piece of Advice You Would Give To Young Brass Players Just Starting Out?
It is a very different world now to when I was in the business. When I speak to those I worked with we all agree that we had the best years, there was never a shortage of work, the telephone was always ringing. The other big difference is the exceptionally high standard of brass playing now and the competition for work is fierce, much less so in my day. However the advice would be the same, practise, practise , practise and be a nice person, working with other musicians in close proximity requires understanding and sympathy.
What Do You Wish You Knew When You Were Young, That You Know Now?
How much better I could have been if I had worked harder.
Is There Anything You Would Have Done Differently In Your Career?
I should have accepted the offer to be principal trombone with the RPO when Evan Watkin retired but I did not feel I could live up to his incredible talent, or produce the sound he produced, and so I remained a 2nd trombone throughout my career. No regrets, it was a wonderful time, both with the RPO and Covent Garden.
If You Had Not Become A Professional Musician What Career Would You Have Followed?
I always fancied the Merchant Navy, I love the sea and Iove travelling.
If There Was One Composer You Would Have Liked To Have Met Who Would That Be?
Likewise What Performer Musical or Otherwise From History Would You Like To Have Met?
Difficult question, there are so many fascinating characters but they were often difficult people to get along with. Napoleon fascinates me but performers like Heifitz and Paganini also might prove interesting.
Thank you Alan so much for giving up your time. Your career has been such a distinguished and varied one. A remarkable CV by any standards. Your many pupils regard you as an inspirational influence on them, their musical careers and life. Colleagues in the playing and teaching world still refer to you as a legend and that you truly are in every sense of the word. Thank you for everything you have done for music and brass playing in particular.