Autograph manuscript of A Garland of Shakespearian [sic] and other old-fashioned songs op 21.

Item author: Charles Hubert Hastings Parry
Item date: 1873
Grant Value: £2,063 [B. H. Breslauer Foundation Fund]
Item cost: £6,875
Item date acquired: 2019
Item institution: Royal College of Music
Town/City: London

The Royal College of Music has a very close link to Sir Hubert Parry.  He was appointed to teach at the college at its foundation in 1882 and in 1895 he succeeded Sir George Grove as our second Director.  On his death in 1918 Emily Daymond, his assistant, arranged for the bulk of his music manuscripts to be split between the Royal College of Music and Oxford University (his alma mater).  In addition to approximately 50% of his manuscripts the Royal College of Music also holds extensive Parry archival material including his lecture books, letters and other writing relating to his time at the college. 

Manuscripts of songs are underrepresented in the collection, so this acquisition goes some way to rectify this. 

The Op 21 set is made up of the following songs:

  • Love's Perjuries "On a day, alack the day!" to a text by Shakespeare, from The Passionate Pilgrim
  • A Spring Song "It was a Lover and His Lass" from Shakespeare’s As You Like It
  • A Contrast "The Merry bird sits in the tree" to an anonymous text
  • “Love is a Sickness” to a text by Samuel Daniel
  • A Sea Dirge "Full fathom five" from Shakespeare’s The Tempest
  • “Merry Margaret” to a text by John Skelton 

The selection reflects the breadth of Parry’s reading.  He was a voracious reader, keeping lists of his reading at the end of his diaries and this gave him the texts for over 100 songs which he wrote throughout his life.  They complement our holdings of Parry’s larger scale choral settings including his Scenes from Shelley’s “Prometheus Unbound” (RCM MS 4212) and his Coronation Anthem I was glad (RCM MS 4244).   

The songs were written in 1873, the year after his marriage, and are dedicated to Aeneas Ranald McDonnell, who was his business partner at Lloyd’s Register of Shipping at the time.  Although the texts led Parry to compose them in a mock-archaic style they illustrate Parry’s growing maturity.  Musically 1873 was turning point for Parry as it was the year he first met the pianist Edward Dannreuther with whom he went on to study piano.  Through Dannreuther Parry heard and played new music from across Europe and met many great performers and composers, he also supported Parry’s development as a composer. 

Since acquiring the manuscript, it has been scanned and accessioned (shelfmark:  MS 21027).  It is now available to consult in the Royal College of Music Library’s reading room, the Donaldson Room.  The manuscript will be used to help introduce students to repertoire of which they are unaware.  The scans will be added to the Internet Archive in 2020.  The Royal College of Music would like to thank the FNL for its generous support.


Item Provenance
Purchased at Sotheby’s (3 December 2019, Lot 75)