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Melodic Felicity

Salon music by
Katharine Parker -
reviewed by

'Edwards has a lovely soprano voice'

Down Longford Way - The music of Katharine Parker. Jane Edwards, soprano; Ian Munro, piano. © 2005 Tall Poppies Records

Katharine Parker was a name unknown to me until I started to listen to her music on this charming disc. Born in 1886 to a gentleman sheep farmer in Tasmania, she studied music at the Melbourne Conservatorium and then travelled to London with the intention of studying with fellow Australian, Percy Grainger. She and Grainger got on well and she became part of his set, getting to know composers such as Cyril Scott, Roger Quilter and Balfour Gardiner. It was here that Kitty met her husband, the tenor Hubert Eisdell. They married in 1912; at around the same time Kitty was having some success as an accompanist and began to find publishers for her songs and piano pieces.

Grainger was sufficiently impressed with her composing to give her strong encouragement. Unfortunately by early 1930 the couple had separated, their marriage dissolving under the strain of Eisdell's problems at finding secure employment. Rather interestingly, their only son, Michael Eisdell, went on to become a broadcaster and was well known for his appearances as a straight man for comedians such as Spike Milligan and Dick Bentley.

Most of her music was written prior to the break up of her marriage in 1930. This event seemed to sap her morale and removed the impetus to compose. Though Grainger admired her talent and pushed her to compose more, she seems to have undervalued herself. The results of her efforts are a group of piano pieces and songs.

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Copyright © 24 June 2006 Robert Hugill, London UK


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