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MS 923

Reference code

MS 923


Hubert Parry: autograph music scores composed at Eton



Administrative / Biographical history

Parry, C. Hubert H. (Charles Hubert Hastings), 1848-1918

Hubert Parry was a composer and historian of music, was born in Bournemouth, where his mother had travelled for the sake of her failing health, on 27 February 1848; she died twelve days later. His father, Thomas Gambier Parry was a wealthy and cultured Gloucestershire landowner who had a large circle of artistic and musical friends. He was himself an accomplished musician and occasional composer. Hubert, the second son, very soon showed musical promise and began to compose as a schoolboy. His earliest extant compositions, many of them preserved in the present collection, date from his time at Eton, not then noted for its musical education, where he excelled at sport and was instrumental in bringing music to the fore by reviving the Eton Musical Society. It was for the Musical Society that he wrote much music and often performed as a pianist, singer, accompanist or conductor. He gained the Oxford B.Mus degree whilst still at Eton, and proceeded to Exeter College in that university, not to study music but in order to qualify for a commercial career as was the wish of his father. It is paradoxical that Gambier Parry quite strenuously opposed the idea of his talented son pursuing a career in music when it was an art which played so large a part in his own life. The younger Parry threw himself into the Oxford musical life with characteristic enthusiasm.

Parry's first choral commission was 'Prometheus Unbound', first performed at the Three Choirs festival in 1880. By 1883 Parry had been awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Cambridge in recognition of his contributions to music and music history. Shortly afterwards Parry took up a post at the Royal College of Music. In 1887 'Blest Pair of Sirens', Parry's setting of Milton's 'At a Solemn Musick', was met with acclaim and ensured a steady flow of commissions which would continue for the rest of his career.

Parry produced some of his best-known works towards the end of his life; these include 'Symphonic Fantasia 1912' and his setting of William Blake's 'Jerusalem'.Parry died from Spanish flu in 1918.



Extent & medium

20 scores in 3 folders

Content description

This collection comprises of material composed by Hubert Parry during his years at Eton College:

1. Anthem: Fear Thou Not, for SATB in G, 5 pages, 1864
2. Anthem: O Sing unto the Lord, for SATB in C, 7 pages, 1864
3. Anthem: Prevent Us O Lord, for SATB, autograph and fair copy, 1865. With a sketch for a Sanctus on the reverse of the first. Sung at Salisbury Cathedral.
4. Anthem: Why Boasteth Thou Thyself, for five-part unaccompanied choir (Two soprano parts), autograph and fair copy, signed and dated 6 June 1865
5. Anthem: Blessed is They (sic - for He), in short score with complete organ accompaniment. Jeremy Dibble (C. Hubert Parry, His Life and Music, Oxford, 1992-2002, pp. 25 and 33-34) records that this was commenced at Eton in 1864, performed at St. George's on several occasions and published by Novello in 1865
6. Sketches for a Magnificat in B flat, a psalm chant in D minor etc., 1865
7. Fugue in F for piano, 3 pages, signed and dated 'Sept 19' and in pencil '1865' and 'Wilton' (seat of the Earls of Pembroke, where Parry met and fell in love with his future wife Lady Maude Herbert)
8. Fugue in E minor for piano, 4 pages, together with a final version, both with sketches for other pieces, c. 1865
9. Sonata for piano duet in F minor in 4 movements (Allegro Moderato, Largo, Minuet, and Allegro con Moto), c.26 pages, signed with initials and date 23 October 1865
10. Conclusion of a piano piece in D flat, 1 page, dated at Highnam, 27 September 1865
11. Sketch for a fugue, 2 pages, 1864
12. Piano trio (piano, violin and viola), incomplete Minuet and Trio in D, 1 page, c. 1865
13. Part song, Take, O Take Those Lips Away (Shakespeare), for male voice choir, 4 pages. Written in February 1865 for Parry's father's birthday and was performed in a concert at Gloucester Cathedral during the Easter holiday that year, Parry conducting his own work
14. Part song, Fair Daffodils (Robert Herrick), 7 pages, performed at the Royal Glee and Madrigal Union on 12 February 1866 and at the Eton College Musical Society's concert on 22 March of the same year. Incomplete - words copied out in pencil in a different hand for the first leaf only.
15. Solo song, When Stars are in the Quiet Skies, signed and dated 12 April 1865 (written for Carrie Somerset), 4 pages
16. Solo song, Why Does Azure Deck the Sky, sketch on 1 page
17. Solo song, Go Lovely Rose (Edmund Waller), 3 pages, dated at Eton, 21 April 1866
18. Solo song, In Every Grove the Feathered Minstrels Singing, 3 pages with other sketches (parts of an Anglican double chant etc.), probably c. 1866 but untraced, and apparently not mentioned by Dibble.
19. Cantata, O Lord, Thou Hast Cast Us Out, commenced at Eton in 1867 for Parry's B. Mus. exercise. The chorus part for bass voice only, in a copyist's hand, comprising Choruses II (O Lord Thou Hast Cast Us Out), IV (O Lord Why Hast Thou Cast Off?), and VII (Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow).
20. Part song, Fair Daffodils (Robert Herrick). A further draft of MS 923/14, with underlay included in ink. 4 pages. Incomplete: from the line 'Stay until the hasting day' onwards. This score was identified with the Parry scores purchased by the Bodleian Library in the same sale, and given to Eton in July 2019.

Associated material

Eton College Library additionally has a separate, small collection of autograph music scores by Parry written in his later years.

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