Thursday, 8 December 2011

A Memory of Parry as a Lecturer: Gustav Holst

Just a very short post today. I found this anecdote by Gustav Theodore Holst about Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry in an old copy of the Music Student. I think that is it entirely self-explanatory and needs no commentary save to say that Holst studied composition under Sir Charles Villiers Stanford.  Parry had died on 7 October 1918.

By G, T. HOLST. 
My first impression of Sir Hubert Parry, on meeting him in 1892, was that at last I had met a great man who did not terrify me. It was my first term at the Royal College of Music, and I think all raw students, like myself, must have felt grateful for his unfailing geniality and sympathy. Unfortunately, some had not the opportunity of realising what lay beneath. 
An insight into this was accorded me at the first of his lectures on musical history. He began it in quite an ordinary way. He gave names and dates and events, and I settled down to listen to the sort of lecture I had often heard before, only this time, far better done. 
Then he looked up from his notes, and said: 
‘I suppose you all know what was going on in Europe at that time?’ He then stood up and while walking about, he gave us, so it seemed to me, a Vision rather than a lecture- a Vision of people struggling to express themselves in ‘war, in commerce, in art, in life: a Vision of the unity that lay under these various forms of human effort: a Vision of the unity of a certain century with those that preceded and followed it: a Vision that I learnt from that moment to call History.
The Music Student November 1918.

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