With a wife called Maude and children called Dorothea and Gwendolyn, Sir Hubert Parry (1848-1918) was every inch a Victorian. To please his family he embarked upon a career in banking but abandoned it once he felt confident enough to earn a living from music. His earliest compositions were chamber works – sonatas, trios, quartets and the like. Orchestral works followed, including the concert overture Guillem de Cabestanh in 1878, in which we can hear the influence of a composer Parry revered, Wagner. In 1883 Parry was appointed Professor of Musical History at the newly founded Royal College of Music in London. Honorary doctorates from Cambridge and Oxford followed. Success as an opera composer failed to eventuate but he found his métier as a composer of choral music – Victorian England being a golden period for massed choirs – with oratorios, odes and other choral works, both secular and sacred, proving highly successful. Fittingly, his best known work today is the choral song “Jerusalem”, a setting of William Blake’s short poem, “And Did those Feet in Ancient Time”. “Jerusalem” is most frequently heard in the version orchestrated by Elgar.
© Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra