58. Sir Hubert Parry [365 Composers for 2013]


27th February – Hubert Parry


Parry (27th February 1848 – 7th October 1918) is our composer for 27th February, to mark the day of his birth.
Nationality: English
Lifespan: 70 years
Genre: Romantic
Education: Oxford University (Law)
Fame Ranking: 2

Hubert Parry, or to give him his full title Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry, 1st Baronet, is best known for his choral work “Jerusalem”, a song set to the words of a poem by William Blake. He also wrote the well-known hymn tune “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind”, also known as “Repton”.

Parry came from a well-to-do family. Although he showed exceptional musical promise from an early age, his father was not keen on his devoting his life to the arts, and instead encouraged him to pursue a more lucrative profession. After studying at the famous Eton School,  he went on to study law and modern history at Oxford, then became an underwriter at Lloyds of London. He continued to pursue music as a hobby however, and soon found that he was achieving more success in musical circles than in insurance.

Parry’s lucky break came when he was offered a position as an assistant, writing articles for the Grove Encyclopedia of Music. The encyclopedia’s editor, George Grove later became the first director of the Royal College of Music, a position which he eventually bequeathed to Parry, who served as director from 1875 until his death. At the RCM he also held the post of Professor of Composition and Musical History as well as serving as Professor of Music at Oxford University for around eight years.

Despite his busy administrative life, Parry found time to compose several works and was sought after for commissions, from around 1880 onwards. He was principally influenced by Germanic composers such as Bach and Brahms, and was particularly interested in German culture. Despite this, his is considered to be a quintiessentially English composer, who in turn went on to inspire the likes of Elgar and Vaughan-Williams. Parry died from Spanish Flu in 1918, and is buried in St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Here’s a performance of  “Jersualem” from the 2006 Last Night of the Proms, an orchestral arrangement by Edward Elgar:



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