Prince Charles puffs up his fave composer

Prince Charles puffs up his fave composer


norman lebrecht

April 21, 2011

I have been invited to a film preview and am all a-twitter with excitement. The film has been made by the Heir to the Throne and it’s about a composer he really, really likes. He’s going to tell us why, for about an hour, I guess.

Now, normally I’d be off to a Royal Command like a corgie at lunchtime but what gives me pause here is that the composer Prince Charles declares he loves above all others, his lifetime number one, is the late Sir Hubert Hastings Parry (1848-1918) who, for me, stands for all that is smug and regressive in English music. Not to say fawning, Germanic and derivative.
I’ve heard enough of it by now to know, and I’ve whiled away the empty minutes of those endless concerts composing subtitles for some of Sir Hubert’s great works, such as:
I Was Glad (when it was over)
Blest Pair of Sirens (keep them out of the tabloids)
Dear Lord and Father of Mankind (what have I done to deserve this?)
Jerusalem (anywhere but here).
As for Job – the musical, don’t get me started. 
So, much as I defer to royalty, wild horses won’t drag me to a film about Parry. Sorry, HRH, can’t make it. Pressing engagement in the country. Another country. Anywhere.


  • Parry’s music will be forever associated, for me, with school. And that’s a very bad thing….
    Don’t you think it says something about HRH, that he perhaps doesn’t have the wit to select an English/British composer with a more varied and interesting oeuvre? Or maybe it suggests that HRH is, like the composer whom he adores, also “smug, regressive, fawning, Germanic and deriative”?

  • John says:

    I think this reveals Charles as quite highbrow by the standards of his family. I dread to think who Prince Andrew’s favourite composer might be.

  • john Mclaughlin Williams says:

    Norman, not even the 5th Symphony does anything for you? I can imagine your subtitle: The 5th (pour me another)

  • Marie Lamb says:

    Oh, dear…I should know better than to turn myself loose on something like this! This could be done with any composer, I suppose, but I’ll stick with Parry for the sake of this posting and have a little fun with some other titles…
    –O Lord, Thou hast cast us out (I should be so lucky!)
    –Overture to an Unwritten Tragedy (why couldn’t the overture have remained unwritten, too? It should be “Overture That Is an Unintentional Comedy”)
    –The Vision of Life (needs bifocals to be fully appreciated)
    –The Soul’s Ransom (I’ll pay ANYTHING to get my soul, and body, out of this concert!)
    –Songs of Farewell (Let me sing them as I leave!)
    –The Merry Bird Sits in the Tree (Any room for me up there, too?)
    –Beyond These Voices There Is Peace (You can say THAT again!)
    –Ye Thrilled Me Once (but not now, that’s for sure!)
    –Come Join the Merry Chorus (they must be singing some other composer’s music)
    –La belle dame sans merci (how Parry might describe me for writing these)
    –O Enter With Me The Gates Of Delight (Must be the exit!)
    Parry and Prince Charles may be having the last laugh on this American, though. I am not making this up; I see that one of the words in the captcha is “British”! đŸ™‚

  • Marcus Davison says:

    Give him a break, at least the Prince of Wales knows that Parry was just one person – unlike the oh-so-cultured Grauniad, which once stated that Jerusalem was the joint effort of Charles Hubert and Hastings Parry. See, and scroll to footnotes at the end.

  • Lawrence says:

    So who were Purcell, Elgar, Vaughn Williams, and Benjamin Britten? Chopped liver?

  • Barry says:

    “So who were Purcell, Elgar, Vaughn Williams, and Benjamin Britten? Chopped liver?”
    No, but not exactly in need of promotion either.
    These superior affectations are laughable. Well done Mr Lebrecht for bringing out the worst in everyone.

  • RichardB says:

    Fun reading all these well-informed musical commentators dismissing a composer’s entire life, work and significance on the basis of a couple of minor choral works. Very hard indeed to avoid the suspicion they’ve even listened to anything else by him.
    “I was made to play Fur Elise at school; so as far as I’m concerned, Beethoven is trite, senmtimental and conservative. Oh, and now Brian Windsor likes him too? Case closed”.
    So anyway, now we’ve kicked CHP, unplayed and unheard, back into the dustbin of history. Result!
    NEXT TOPIC: Why oh why oh why do people keep playing the same hackneyed symphonies and concertos when there’s so much neglected repertoire worth exploring. I can’t think why. Anyone?