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Horatio William Parker

Horatio William Parker

Horatio William Parker (1863-1919) was one of the most respected American composers of the late 19th century and professor of music at Yale University.

Horatio Parker was born on Sept. 15, 1863, in Auburndale, Mass. At 14 he began taking piano lessons from his mother and soon wrote a collection of songs for children. At 16 he became organist of a church at Dedham and began to compose hymns and anthems.

In 1882 Parker went to Europe to study at the Royal School of Music in Munich. While abroad he married fellow music student Anna Plossl, a Munich banker's daughter. Upon returning to America, Parker settled in New York, teaching at the Cathedral School in Garden City. He taught at the National Conservatory of Music in New York City at the time Antonin Dvořák was its director and in 1893 became choirmaster and organist at Trinity Church in Boston. The following year Parker was appointed head of the Music Department of Yale University, a position he held until his death. While at Yale, he organized the New Haven Symphony Orchestra.

Although Parker attempted a number of symphonic and instrumental pieces, his choral music was his finest work. His most lasting composition, the oratorio Hora Novissima (1891-1892), was written during a time when he was grieving over the loss of a sister. Here the composer reveals his ability at massed choral effects, as well as his skill for developing hymnlike themes. The music is masculine and vital, if at times overly calculated. He received the National Conservatory Award in 1892 for his cantata The Dream King and His Love.

Parker's first opera, Mona, won a $10, 000 prize offered by the directors of the Metropolitan Opera House for the best American opera. It was premiered on March 14, 1912, but was dropped from the Metropolitan repertoire after four performances. His second opera, Fairyland, was also awarded a $10, 000 prize, this time by the National Federation of Music Clubs; the work was performed six times in 1915 during the federation's biennial in Los Angeles.

Parker served as editor in chief for a series of graded songbooks for children and remained actively interested in music education in the public schools. He received a doctor of music degree from Cambridge University in 1902, by which time his choral works were enjoying considerable success in England. He commanded greater social standing than most American musicians of his day, although his strong-willed, individualistic personality made him a figure of controversy among students and colleagues. He died at Cedarhurst, N.Y., on Dec. 18, 1919.

Further Reading

An interesting, personalized account of Parker is George W. Chadwick's Horatio Parker (1921). Isabel Parker Semler, Horatio Parker (1942), is based primarily on the composer's papers and family letters. The best brief discussion of Parker's life and work is contained in Gilbert Chase, America's Music, from the Pilgrims to the Present (1955; 2d ed. 1966).

Additional Sources

Kearns, William, Horatio Parker, 1863-1919: his life, music, and ideas, Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1990.

Semler, Isabel Parker, Horatio Parker: a memoir for his grandchildren, New York: AMS Press, 1975. □

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"Horatio William Parker." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Horatio William Parker." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 22, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/horatio-william-parker

"Horatio William Parker." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Retrieved October 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/horatio-william-parker

Parker, Horatio (William)

Parker, Horatio (William) (b Auburndale, Mass., 1863; d Cedarhurst, NY, 1919). Amer. composer, organist, and teacher. Held org. posts in NY, and taught at Nat. Cons. when Dvořák was dir. Org. and mus. dir. Trinity Church, Boston, 1893–1902. Prof. of mus., Yale Univ., 1894–1919 (dean from 1904). Taught Ives. His oratorio Hora Novissima (1893) was the first work by an Amer. to be perf. at a 3 Choirs Fest. (Worcester 1899). His Wanderer's Psalm was perf. Hereford 1900, Part 3 of Legend of St Christopher at Worcester 1902, complete work Bristol 1902. Also wrote 2 operas (Mona, 1910, won NY Met prize and was prod. there 1912), sym., sym.-poem, org. conc., chamber mus., ch. works, org. pieces, and songs.

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"Parker, Horatio (William)." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Parker, Horatio (William)." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 22, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/parker-horatio-william

"Parker, Horatio (William)." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Retrieved October 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/parker-horatio-william

Parker, Horatio William

Horatio William Parker, 1863–1919, American composer, b. Auburndale, Mass.; pupil of Rheinberger in Munich. He was an organist and choirmaster in Boston and New York City and taught at the National Conservatory, New York. In 1894, Parker became the first chairman of the music department at Yale, a position he held until his death. He composed for the stage, for orchestra, and for organ, but he is remembered as a writer of church music in the style of late German romanticism.

See biography by his daughter, Isabelle Semler (1942, repr. 1973).

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"Parker, Horatio William." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Parker, Horatio William." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 22, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/parker-horatio-william

"Parker, Horatio William." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved October 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/parker-horatio-william