And There Was Music

Photo of Hubert Parry
Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry

After graduating from Oxford, Hubert Parry was bound for a business career in London, although money-making was not as interesting to him as music-making. In September of 1870 he couldn’t resist a final burst of freedom. He wrote about it in his diary:

I spent a quiet time studying manuscript music, practicing, and shooting till the end of September. The time was specially noticeable for an adventurous trip which Ernest and I took in two canoes from Over Bridge to Sharpness Point on the Severn, wherein we met with various fortune; being cast upon banks and quicksands, narrowly escaping destruction in the rapids by Westbury Cliff, where we avoided a rock by only about one yard; then being benighted, we were cast upon a reef opposite Broad Oak near Newnham by the rapids; and were only relieved of mud, cold and vexation by the kindness of a neighboring gentleman, who at length, having solaced us with beer, sent us on our way to a friendly hostel, where we found food and shelter. Next morning we pursued a more prosperous journey on the glorious broad river.

We had a fine breeze when past the “Nooze” and in the broad part opposite Frampton, and had to wait for a more quiet passage to the Point in the hospitable creek of Gatcombe, where we spent a pleasant hour in the company of the sociable pilots, and enjoyed a simple luncheon and also the beauty of that little cluster of houses nestled in a division of the red cliffs, and afterward, passed across to the Point in safety. There we carried our canoes over the side of the huge locks, and went up the canal to Frampton, where we rested the night and arrived at Gloucester, after a journey of 80 miles, on the following morning.

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Within ten years, Hubert Parry would apply equal vigor to the rejuvenation of English music.