Obituary: Alan Frank

Alan Clifford Frank, composer, clarinettist, publisher; born London 10 October 1910; Head, Music Department, Oxford University Press 1954-75; Chairman, Performing Right Society 1976-78; married 1935 Phyllis Tate (died 1987; one son, one daughter); died London 23 June 1994.

ALAN FRANK was one of those figures essential to the continuing prosperity of the art and industry of music; a publisher and administrator who was also a musician. As a young man he had been a part-time professional clarinettist and, during his retirement, taught the instrument to young people at his home in Hampstead, north London. At one time he wrote music - his Suite for Two Clarinets, a laconic, witty work, is still played - and it was perhaps due to his marrying in 1935 Phyllis Tate, a more gifted composer then him, that he relinquished this pursuit.

Frank also has some books to his credit, and his treatise on the clarinet, written in conjuction with Frederick Thurston, still sells well, whilst, before the Second World War, he could occasionally be heard compering BBC music programmes both expertly and chattily, his light touch and broad taste being just what was wanted in that field.

On leaving Dulwich College, where he had been a scholar, Frank entered the music department of the Oxford University Press - then situated in the City under the aegis of Hubert Foss - and, except for service in RAF Intelligence during the war, where he specialised in the Italian Air Force, stayed there for more than 40 years until his retirement in 1975, having become head of the department in 1954.

Among the many distinguished composers he handled during that time were Ralph Vaughan Williams, William Walton, Alan Rawsthorne and Alun Hoddinott, with whom, as that rare bird, a music publisher who can read a score, he had close relations as fellow musician as well as business partner and friend.

Late in life Frank took up, for fun, the saxophone: an instrument on which he made his public debut at a party to honour Vivian Ellis at the Performing Right Society in December 1976. With me as accompanist he played - rather crudely, it must be admitted - six of Ellis's best-known songs to an audience that luckily had had quite a bit to drink, or it might have been less appreciative. It was one of Frank's typical pranks, showing both his sense of humour and occasion, for, as chairman of the society, he was naturally expected in some way to salute the famous tunesmith who was the society's Deputy President and later to be its President.

It was as Chairman of the PRS that Frank showed that he was a master negotiator. I witnessed on more than one occasion his handling of a commercial deal, and admired his cat-like patience and crisp closing pounce on a prey who might well have believed he was king of the jungle until meeting this quietly formidable adversary.

A smallish, compactly built man, Frank was always neatly and stylishly dressed. Throughout his life he enjoyed good health, a gift that might partly be attributed to his daily swim in Hampstead Ponds, where he was known to break the ice in winter. He was a keen walker and loved foreign travel. Living near the terminus of the 24 bus, he would on sudden impulse, even in old age, pack a bag, take the bus to Victoria Station, get on a boat train, cross the Channel and tramp around some beautiful city admiring the architecture, which was one of his special interests.

In addition to his copious musical and administrative talents, Frank also had the gift of hospitality. He had a wonderfully accurate anecdotal and historical memory and could spellbind an audience with accounts of extraordinary and often scandalous happenings in the lives of the famous and not so famous.

He was also a devoted family man, his paternal accounts of the careers and exploits of his progeny never boring but always delighting his friends. His influence will be felt long after his death, both in the world of music at large and in the recollections of those who knew and loved him.

(Photograph omitted)

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Manager - Kent - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager / Training Manager (L&D /...

HR Manager - Edgware, London - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - Edgware, Lon...

HR Manager - London - £40,000 + bonus

£32000 - £40000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Talent Manager / HR Manager - central London - £50,000

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Talent / Learning & Development Mana...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam