Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Thomas Dunhill: On Parry (from the Monthly Musical Record November 1918)

I recently found this short eulogy to Charles Hubert Hastings Parry. it was written shortly after the compsoers death on 7 October 1918.

Parry's consummate mastery in part-writing and his power of controlling massive choral forces led some of his admirers to speak of him as 'the English Bach'. The compliment was doubtless appreciated. It is probably, however, that it gave him more pleasure when his old pupil Vaughan Williams (then studying at the Royal College) declared, in making a presentation from the students on the occasion of his receiving the honour of knighthood, that those who loved his music best preferred to think of him as 'the English Parry'.

The truth is that Parry's music was, almost from the beginning, an intensely personal expression. That is perhaps, why those who knew him personally will almost invariably the most ardent admirers of his art. To others it seemed on a lofty plane of isolation which was remote from the world. They understood him when he gave play to exuberance and that bluff geniality which was the most openly apparent quality of his personality To his highest flights they were somewhat coldly responsive, recognising the nobility of manner rather than the deep conviction which lay behind it. Parry's attitude as an artist was uncompromising and not of the kind that quickly wins popular acceptance. He did not write to please, but to express. He was, I think, devoid of any kind of vanity. He would not have been human had he not appreciated the good opinion of the discerning and of those who consistently admired his work, but for any other kind of applause he seemed to care nothing.
Profound alike as scholar and musical historian, hotly impulsive and vigorous in his music, and inspiring in his influence upon all who were in any way associated with him, Sir Hubert Parry's example still lives and shines amongst us-'a presence which is not to be put by'.

Monthly Musical Record, Novemeber 1918

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