Thursday, May 21, 2009

What are you listening to?

At present I am fixated on Parry's Symphonies No3 and No4. As I sit in the university library I turn up the volume on my headphones, and use my laptop as a CD player. I am trying to keep the chattering hordes from out of my hearing range after all, I must not get distracted!. So amongst the books, papers, pens, pencils and laptop I also lug around 2 or 3 CDs to give me variety.

A moment(?) of procrastination led me to google Parry. He was the man who composed the music to Blake's poem Jerusalem, and which Elgar (who studied under Parry) orchestrated to give it the jingoistic flavour which we oh so loudly sing at the Last Night of the Proms every year. Apparently he composed it in 1916, specifically for a meeting of the “Fight for the Right” women’s suffrage movement being held at Queen’s Hall in London that year. Read more here.

Procrastinating further, I discovered a great obituary published in The Musical Times from 1918. Here is a lovely quote:

Imagine Parry, ‘the greatest British composer since Purcell,’ wasting his precious time, that belonged to the world, over the revision of 3,000 examination papers – an appalling thought! He was born both a gentleman and a musician, and had he been left to himself and his creative instincts he might have done infinitely greater things in his art. But, being placed at the head of the musical profession, Principal of the Royal College of Music, chairman of anything and everything connected with music and musicians (including charities and examinations as aforesaid), his art was clearly stifled in no small measure by the absurd demands of his administrative position...
A composer who counts is rare enough anywhere, any time. Do not try to use him as a mixture of university don, cabinet minister, city magnate, useful hack, or a dozen things besides.
Read full obit here.

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