Hubert Parry

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Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry, 1st Baronet (27 February 1848 – 7 October 1918) was an English composer, teacher and historian of music.

Parry's first major works appeared in 1880. As a composer he is best known for the choral song "Jerusalem", the coronation anthem "I was glad" and the hymn tune "Repton", which sets the words "Dear Lord and Father of Mankind". He was director of the Royal College of Music from 1895 until his death and was also professor of music at the University of Oxford from 1900 to 1908. He also wrote several books about music and music history. Some contemporaries rated him as the finest English composer since Henry Purcell, but his academic duties prevented him from devoting all his energies to composition.

Contents

Biography

Early years

Parry was born in Bournemouth, the youngest of six children of Thomas Gambier Parry (1816–1888) of Highnam Court, Gloucestershire, a painter, art collector and inventor of the "spirit fresco" process,[1] and his first wife, Isabella née Clinton (1816–1848). Three of their children died in infancy, and Isabella Parry died twelve days after the birth of her sixth child. Parry grew up at Highnam Court with his surviving siblings, (Charles) Clinton and Lucy. Thomas Parry remarried in 1851, and had a further six children.[2]

From this upper-middle class background, Parry was sent to Twyford Preparatory School in Hampshire [3] and Eton, where his interest in music was encouraged and developed. At Eton he distinguished himself at sports as well as music, despite early signs of the heart trouble that was to dog him for the rest of his life. He took music lessons with Sir George Job Elvey, the organist of St George's Chapel, Windsor, and composed many prentice works.[4]

While still at Eton Parry successfully sat the Oxford Bachelor of Music examination, the youngest person who had ever done so.[2] His examination exercise, a cantata, O Lord, Thou hast cast us out, "astonished" the Oxford Professor of Music, Sir Frederick Ouseley, and was triumphantly performed and published in 1867.[5] On going on to Oxford after leaving Eton, Parry did not study music, being intended by his father for a commercial career, and instead read law and modern history. From 1870 to 1877 he was an underwriter at Lloyd's of London.[4] In 1872 he married Lady Elizabeth Maude Herbert (1851–1933), second daughter of the politician Sidney Herbert and his wife Elizabeth. His in-laws, like his father, preferred a conventional career for him, although Parry proved as unsuccessful in insurance as he was successful in music.[1] Parry and his wife had two daughters, Their elder, Dorothea (d. 11 July 1963)[6] married the politician Arthur Ponsonby in 1898[7] and had a son and a daughter. Their younger daughter Gwendolen (b. 1877) married the baritone Harry Plunket Greene (1865–1936) and had two sons and a daughter.[8]

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