shulbrede

I’ve just finished reading Jeremy Dibble’s very large biography of Charles Hubert Parry, and also recently heard Parry as the subject of This Week’s Composer on Radio 3 and the TV documentary narrated (somewhat improbably!) by Prince Charles.  While Charles showed a polite interest throughout, there were many excellent contributions in the documentary, including Stephen Banfield (who taught me at Keele) and David Owen Norris, who brilliantly picked apart “Jerusalem” to see how it works. My favorite pieces by Parry are the Songs of Farewell, but completely new to me were the Shulbrede Tunes, a late suite of ten brief piano pieces. Parry’s daughter Dorothea (aka “Dolly”) lived at Shulbrede Priory in Sussex, and Parry used to visit whenever he could. Dolly required two tunes to express her character, the second is slow and stately, similar in mood to Elgar’s famous “Nimrod” ,from the Enigma Variations, though rather less dramatic. I’ve always thought of Elgar as very separate from the academics Parry and Stanford, but Dibble’s book reveals how much Parry supported Elgar, and how much the two men admired each other.

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