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Great War: Unknown WarNews and Events

Hubert Parry's Broken Dream of Germany, 1876-1918 Event

Hubert Parry
18:00 - 20:00
23 November 2017
Lecture Theatre C, Avenue Campus University of Southampton SO17 1BF

For more information regarding this event, please email Mary Andrew at .

Event details

Part of the Great War: Unknown War Programme

"'If we have to stand in rows over against the Albert Hall with files of Prussian soldiers ready to demolish us, we shall all look down the murderous barrels without winking an eyelash.” With this image, part of his 1914 “Director’s address” to the students of the Royal College of Music, Hubert Parry (1848-1918) attempted to inspire heroic resistance in his charges, many of whom would shortly be sent to the front in France. That he had to evoke the image of a Prussian invasion of the hallowed musical precincts of South Kensington would have come as a bitter disappointment to him. Parry was, in his own words, “a pro-Teuton,” who had devoted his career to forging a new music for Britain built primarily on German models. In this lecture I will trace Parry’s engagement with Germany from the 1870s onwards, and show how Parry used German musical “progress” to inspire much of his work as a composer, educator, author and administrator. His internationalist outlook was of a piece with his liberal political stance: he supported Home Rule for Ireland and sympathised with the Women’s Suffrage movement. It was his fervent belief that new institutions such as the RCM could lead the world—via the power of the British Empire—to a better music. The coming of war in 1914 put him in a difficult position. By 1916 his family ties to leading pacifists such as his son-in-law Arthur Ponsonby drew him into anti-war circles. Nonetheless he accepted a commission from the group “Fight for Right” to compose a patriotic hymn, which became “Jerusalem,” perhaps his most famous work. When he saw the way they used the piece to animate mass crowds in the Albert Hall, he withdrew the dedication and offered it instead to the suffragettes. He died in in the closing months of the war, broken by the senseless loss of so many of his students, and the apparent failure of his liberal dream of a European music that could bring Britain and Germany together.

Please join us for this lecture at the University of Southampton. All welcome, admission free but please register in advance by clicking the link above. Refreshments will be served from 5.30. Joining instructions will be sent to those registered shortly before the event date.

Great War: Unknown War Programme webpage

Speaker information

Dr Tom Irvine,I teach undergraduates and postgraduates across our entire course. I work with students on music history from 1600 to the present, jazz history, musical ‘authenticity’ and British musical modernism. In 2017/18 I will be teaching an ‘alternative histories’ module in the Department of History as well. I also teach humanities postgraduate students through the Southampton Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies. My goal in the classroom is to help students understand themselves better though engagement with the musical histories we all carry around with us—nowadays in our smart phones! One of my greatest pleasures as a university teacher is hearing from former students who have gone on to find powerful musical voices—as teachers, managers, performers, composers and scholars. And I am just as proud of those students who contribute to the ‘wider world’ as lawyers, civil servants, engineers, entrepreneurs and in businesses and charities of all stripes. I want all of our students to leave Southampton prepared to become advocates for the ‘musical’ way of doing things that brought us all together in the first place.

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