Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V20, Page 865 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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BART SIR CHARLES HUBERT HASTINGS PARRY., English musical composer (1848– ), second son of Thomas Gambier Parry, of Highnam Court, Gloucester, was born at Bournemouth on the 27th of February 1848. He was educated at Malvern, Twyford, near Winchester, Eton (from 1861), and Exeter College, Oxford. While still at Eton he wrote music, two anthems being published in 1865; a service in D was dedicated to Sir John Stainer. He took the degree of Mus.B. at Oxford at the age of eighteen, and that of B.A. ifi 187o; he then left Oxford for London, where in the following year he entered Lloyd's, abandoning business for art soon afterwards. He studied successively with H. H. Pierson (at Stuttgart), Sterndale Bennett and Macfarren; but the most important _part of his artistic development was due to Edward Dannreuther. Among the larger works of this early period must be mentioned an overture, Guillem de Cabestanh (Crystal Palace, 1879), a pianoforte concerto in F sharp minor, played by Dannreuther at the Crystal Palace and Richter concerts in 188o, and his first choral work, the Scenes from Prometheus Unbound, produced at the Gloucester Festival, 1880. These, like a symphony in G given at the Birmingham Festival of 1882, seemed strange even to educated hearers, who were confused by the intricacy of treatment. It was not until his setting of Shirley's ode, The Glories of our Blood and State, was brought out at Gloucester, 1883, and the Partita for violin and pianoforte was published about the same time, that Parry's importance came to be realized. With his sublime eight-part setting of Milton's Blest Pair of Sirens (Bach Choir, 1887) began a fine series of compositions to sacred or semi-sacred words. In Judith (Birmingham, 1888), the Ode on St Cecilia's Day (Leeds, 1889), L' Allegro ed it penseroso (Norwich, 1890), De Profundis (Hereford, 1891), The Lotus Eaters (Cambridge, 1892), Job (Gloucester, 1892), King Saul (Birmingham, 1894), Invocation to Music (Leeds, 1895), Magnificat (Hereford, 1897), A Song of Darkness and Light (Gloucester, 1898), and Te Deum (Hereford, 1900), are revealed the highest qualities of music. Skill in piling up climax after climax, and command of every choral resource, are the technical qualities most prominent in these works; but in his orchestral compositions, such as the three later symphonies, in F, C and E minor, xx. 28in two suites, one for strings alone, and above all in his Symphonic Variations (1897), he shows himself a master of the orchestra, and his experiments in modification of the conventional classical forms, such as appear in the work last named, or in the Nineteen Variations for Pianoforte Solo, are always successful. His music to The Birds of Aristophanes (Cambridge, 1883) and The Frogs (Oxford, 1892) are striking examples of humour in music; and that to Agamemnon (Cambridge, 1900) is among the most impressive compositions of the kind. His chamber music, exquisite part-songs and solo songs maintain the high standard of his greater works. At the opening of the Royal College of Music in 1883 he was appointed professor of composition and of musical history, and in 1894, on the retirement of Sir George Grove, Parry succeeded him as principal. He was appointed Choragus of Oxford University in 1883, succeeding Stainer in the professorship of the university in 1900. He received the honorary degree of Mus.D. at Cambridge 1883, Oxford 1884, Dublin 1891; and was knighted in 1898. Outside the domain of creative music, Parry's work for music was of the greatest importance: as a contributor of many of the most important articles on musical forms, &c., in Grove's dictionary, his literary work first attracted attention; in his Studies of Great Composers musical biography was treated, almost for the first time, in a really enlightened and enlightening way; and his Art of Music is a splendid monument of musical literature, in which the theory of evolution is applied to musical history with wonderful skill and success.
PARRY (from Fr. parer, to ward off)

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