Hubert Parry (1848-1918), Parry Becomes Director Of The Royal College Of Music


0420120216Donald Macleod on the effect of Parry's becoming director of the Royal College of Music.

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 had hit the big time! His Blest Pair of Sirens had proved to be popular, and a number of other choral commissions followed, including the chance to write an oratorio, Judith. Although rarely heard in its entirety today, many will recognise one of the tunes as the hymn Dear Lord and Father of Mankind. Other choral works followed, such as Job, although Parry detested the nation's lust for oratorios, and soon found himself pigeonholed in the category of an oratorio composer.

Other commissions came Parry's way though, such as composing incidental music for the stage. One such play was The Frogs, which caused wild uproar. Then followed another stage work, Hypatia, although the composing of this was at a time when Parry's health was not good. Parry had always suffered from poor health, and now his doctors were advising him regular trips abroad for peace and quiet, and time away from work. This was hard to achieve, as Parry had just been appointed Director of the Royal College of Music.

Along with this appointment at the RCM, and with his commissions increasing, Parry's status was now at an all time high. For the anniversary celebrations of the composer Purcell, Parry would compose one of his best choral works, Invocation to Music. Also at this time he'd write his only orchestral work to become popular abroad, the Symphonic Variations.