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Parry and the Birth of Modern English Music

Donald Macleod focuses on the effect of Parry's writing Prometheus Unbound.

He was considered the nation's unofficial composer laureate with hits such as Jerusalem, and was knighted by Queen Victoria for his services to music including the revitalisation of British musical life - this week Donald Macleod focuses upon the life and music of Sir Hubert Parry.

Parry in his early thirties was enjoying the support and friendship of the pianist Edward Dannreuther. This friendship would allow Parry the chance to compose and hear many chamber works at his mentor's chamber evenings, including his Violin Sonata in D major, composed at the request of Dannreuther.

Parry's status as a composer would soon be on the up, with a commission from the Gloucestershire Festival. His response was the choral work Prometheus Unbound, which some say heralded the birth of modern English music. This popularity in writing choral music would develop further, allowing Parry the opportunity to write one of best known scores, Blest Pair of Sirens.

Parry was now appointed a teacher at the newly established Royal College of Music, and colleagues would soon be criticising him for his interest in Wagner. Like Wagner, Parry was attracted to the art from of opera. Yet unlike Wagner, Parry's only attempt in the form, Guenever, was a total failure. During this time though Parry did compose one of his most popular orchestral works, his third Symphony, nicknamed The English.

1 hour

Music Played

  • Hubert Parry

    Allegro from Violin Sonata in D major

    Performer: Erich Gruenberg, violin Performer: Roger Vignoles, piano

    • Helios CHD55266.
  • Hubert Parry

    Maestoso, 2nd movement from Piano Concerto in F sharp Major

    Performer: Piers Lane, piano Performer: BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra Performer: Martyn Brabbins, conductor

    • Hyperion CDA66820.
  • Hubert Parry

    Blest Pair of Sirens

    Performer: Waynflete Singers Performer: Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra Performer: David Hill, conductor

    • Decca 4703782.
  • Hubert Parry

    Blow, blow, thou winter wing from English Lyrics set II

    Performer: Robert Tear, tenor Performer: Philip Ledger, piano

    • Decca 470378-2.
  • Hubert Parry

    When we two parted, from English Lyrics set IV

    Performer: Robert Tear, tenor Performer: Philip Ledger, piano

    • Decca 470378-2.
  • Hubert Parry

    Guenevers Soliloquy, from Guenever Act I Scene IV

    Performer: Susan Gritton, soprano Performer: BBC Concert Orchestra Performer: Martyn Brabbins, conductor

    • Dutton Epoch, CDLX7228.
  • Hubert Parry

    Moderato from Symphony no.3 in C major

    Performer: The London Philharmonic Performer: Matthias Bamert, conductor

    • Chandos 9120-22.
  • Hubert Parry

    Allegro from Violin Sonata in D major

    Performer: Erich Gruenberg, violin Performer: Roger Vignoles, piano

    • Helios CHD55266.
  • Hubert Parry

    Maestoso, 2nd movement from Piano Concerto in F sharp Major

    Performer: Piers Lane, piano Performer: BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra Performer: Martyn Brabbins, conductor

    • Hyperion CDA66820.
  • Hubert Parry

    Blest Pair of Sirens

    Performer: Waynflete Singers Performer: Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra Performer: David Hill, conductor

    • Decca 4703782.
  • Hubert Parry

    Blow, blow, thou winter wing from English Lyrics set II

    Performer: Robert Tear, tenor Performer: Philip Ledger, piano

    • Decca 470378-2.
  • Hubert Parry

    When we two parted, from English Lyrics set IV

    Performer: Robert Tear, tenor Performer: Philip Ledger, piano

    • Decca 470378-2.
  • Hubert Parry

    Guenevers Soliloquy, from Guenever Act I Scene IV

    Performer: Susan Gritton, soprano Performer: BBC Concert Orchestra Performer: Martyn Brabbins, conductor

    • Dutton Epoch, CDLX7228.
  • Hubert Parry

    Moderato from Symphony no.3 in C major

    Performer: The London Philharmonic Performer: Matthias Bamert, conductor

    • Chandos 9120-22.

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