Raising the profile of Victorian and Edwardian music

Submitting Institution

University of Durham

Unit of Assessment

Music, Drama, Dance and Performing Arts

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Language, Communication and Culture: Cultural Studies, Literary Studies
History and Archaeology: Historical Studies

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Summary of the impact

Dibble's research on Britain and Ireland's neglected Victorian and Edwardian composers, particularly Hubert Parry (1848-1918), Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924) and John Stainer (1840-1901), together with his public engagement and media work, has had a considerable influence on British musical culture. As a result of Dibble's research there has been a substantial increase in the performance, programming and recording of works by these composers, leading to enhanced awareness, enjoyment and understanding of this repertory and its importance to the nation's musical heritage. This research has also led to increased public access to archival documents related to this music, brought work to orchestras and choirs and contributed to the sales generated by music, CD and DVD publishers.

Underpinning research

The underpinning research comprises Dibble's body of work on Victorian and Edwardian musical figures, carried out at Durham since 1993. His book, C. Hubert H. Parry: His Life and Music (1992) was revised to coincide with the composer's sesquicentenary in 1998; this was followed by a brand new biographical entry in Grove, including new material (2000). This book — the first biography of Parry since 1926 — was the first of three major biographical and analytical studies on Victorian musical figures, followed by Charles Villiers Stanford: Man and Musician (2002, his first biography since 1935) and John Stainer: A Life in Music (2007). Alongside detailed biographical narratives, these works provide, largely for the first time, thorough evaluations of these composers' musical and literary works.

Together, these publications offer a comprehensive reassessment of the music of these composers and their place in British and European music history. Dibble demonstrates their role in building on influential German models, particularly those of Brahms and Wagner, while paving the way for the later development of British music, including the hitherto more celebrated following generation (Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Holst, Bridge, Howells et al). This research demonstrated these composers' development of a new, national voice, notably in church music, choral music and song — where the influence of the English language was paramount — but also in traditionally continental areas such as symphony, chamber music and, in Stanford's case, opera. By so doing it demonstrates their historical significance and makes a strong case that the music merits both closer scrutiny and the prominent place in the repertory which it once possessed.

Dibble has also edited a substantial amount of previously unpublished music by these composers: several works have been published in the form of scholarly editions for Musica Britannica (Parry Violin Sonatas, 2003), Oxford University Press (A Stanford Anthology, 2004) and the Royal School of Church Music Press. Numerous other editions, such as Parry's Piano Concerto, Coronation Te Deum, Magnificat and orchestrations of his unfinished opera Guenever, and Stanford's anthems, Piano Quartet No. 2, Horn Quintet, Piano Concerto No. 1 and several church anthems have been prepared directly for recording companies and performing groups. Much of Dibble's work, therefore, enters the public domain in the form of CD recordings released by companies such as Chandos, Hyperion and Naxos, which are made from his editions and feature his detailed and extensive sleeve notes.

Dibble's principal research contributions have therefore taken several forms. In addition to the vital contextual backdrop of his critical biographies, his retrieval and close contact with the musical sources — many of them unpublished and found in a wide range of locations, both public and private — has led to the production of scholarly and performing editions, often allowing performers and the wider public access to a body of work for the first time. Dibble's exploration and use of sources relating to Stainer, which led to the consolidation of his archive and its donation to Durham University in 2010 [7], is an example of the extensive engagement with previously unstudied primary sources, both musical and textual, on which his research, dissemination activities and their impact are based.

References to the research

(i) Written texts
C. Hubert H. Parry: His Life and Music (Oxford University Press, revised edition 1998)
`Parry, Sir Hubert.' Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/20949.
Charles Villiers Stanford: Man and Musician (Oxford University Press, 2002)
John Stainer: A Life in Music (Boydell & Brewer, 2007)


(ii) Music editions
Parry: Sonatas for Violin and Pianoforte, Musica Britannica Vol. LXXX (Stainer & Bell, 2003)
A Stanford Anthology: 18 Anthems and Motets (Oxford University Press, 2004)


(iii) Representative recordings
Naxos 8.572452 (2011). Stanford: Piano Quartet No. 2 in C minor Op. 133 (edition commissioned from Dibble by the Gould Trio). Premiere recording.


Chandos 10740 (2012). Premiere recordings of Parry's Coronation Te Deum*, Magnificat*, `England'*, Parry's orchestration of `Jerusalem' in its original version, The Glories of Our Blood and State and Suite The Birds. (* editions made by Dibble). Neeme Järvi (cond), BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales.


VIVAT101 (2013). Stanford's orchestrations of Evening Services in B flat, A, G and C, Parry's Blest Pair of Sirens, Coronation Te Deum (Dibble edition) and `I was glad'. Robert King (cond.) and the King's Consort, played on instruments of the period. Extensive booklet notes by Dibble.


Markers of Quality
Dibble's research is published by major academic presses, notably Oxford University Press. His work has also been funded by numerous grants, including two awarded in AHRC competitions: 2006. AHRC Small Grant Scheme. £4,000 to support writing of John Stainer: A Life in Music 2007. AHRC Research Grant. £239,000 for `The Development of the Irish Art Music Tradition between 1890-1990'.

Dibble's books have received numerous favourable reviews, for instance by Harry White on Charles Villiers Stanford in the Irish Times (10 May 2003); Martin Adams on Stanford in Music and Letters 85/2 (2004); and Michael Allis on John Stainer in Victorian Studies 51/1 (2008).

These reviews, and the research publications cited above, can be supplied on request.

Details of the impact

Dibble's extensive dissemination activities, which have reached a wide audience through public lectures, TV and radio broadcasts, commercial CD recordings, the national and local press, and music publishers, as well as by collaboration with professional and amateur performers, have ensured its profound impact. Both his research and its subsequent dissemination have aimed (a) to make the music of these composers known to the wider public, (b) to explain its significance, and (c) to provide performing materials for professional and amateur live performances, and for commercial recordings. He has also supervised over 20 PhD students in this area of research since 1993 (5 completed since 2008), many of whom have contributed further to the dissemination of this repertoire as academics, producers and performers. Dibble's work also led to the donation of the Stainer family archive to Durham University library in 2010, making material publicly available for the first time: the catalogue of this collection was consulted no fewer than 1,138 times in the 12 months to March 2013 [7].

The principal impact of Dibble's research has been increased performance and programming of this repertoire. Before Dibble embarked on his research, most of the music of Parry, Stanford and Stainer was unavailable in print or as commercial recordings, and was rarely broadcast. An indication of the neglect of these composers can be found in the archives of the BBC Proms, Britain's best-known classical music festival (www.bbc.co.uk/proms/archive). A handful of Parry's pieces was featured heavily in the Proms in the inter-war years, but by the 1950s this had been effectively reduced to an annual rendition of `Jerusalem' on the Last Night. Between 1954 and his sesquicentenary in 1998 only two performances of other works were given. As a direct result of a consultancy with Dibble, the BBC made Parry a featured composer in 2010 and presented four major works: Symphonic Fantasia in B minor '1912' (23 July 2010), the still unpublished Elegy for Brahms (8 August 2010), Symphonic Variations in E minor (5 September 2010), and Blest Pair of Sirens (11 September 2010). Thus, as a result of Dibble's research, publications and advocacy, the composer was featured more in 2010 than in any year since 1930.

The Proms are just one example of the way in which Dibble's research has facilitated and inspired much more extensive programming, performance, recording and broadcasting of works by these composers, and the exposure of a broad audience to previously unavailable music. As shown below, Dibble has had both a direct influence on the programming of particular events, and a longer-term effect on the programming strategy of several arts organisations. In many cases it was the positive public response to performances and broadcasts dependent on Dibble's research which encouraged promoters and media organisations to programme more of this music.

Dibble's research has allowed others to programme the music as part of major festivals, to record the music for commercial CD releases (and digital downloads), and to feature the music in radio and television programmes. A professional conductor writes of the impact of Dibble's research in leading to `often unjustly neglected works being brought to public attention by way of professional performances and CD recordings. [Dibble] has also brilliantly edited, and even orchestrated [incomplete] works, once again, directly influencing the accessibility of works for the public.' [4] High profile performances and broadcasts as well as numerous CD releases [9] are evidence of the effect this work has had on public and commercial institutions, and on key individuals within them. The very fact that Dibble has been in regular demand as a consultant — including numerous unsolicited requests for advice from broadcasters, recording companies and performing groups — is testimony to the impact of his tireless advocacy, which itself was the focus of a Gramophone article on 22 October 2012 [8]. As a BBC producer writes, `[Dibble's] enthusiasm for these relatively unfamiliar composers is infectious and I know of no other more energetic protagonist nor imaginative communicator of their music' [10].

Dibble was contractually engaged as consultant for a 90-minute TV documentary on Parry, `The Prince and the Composer', commissioned for the BBC, and played a prominent role throughout its production. The director comments that `I consulted [Dibble] right at the beginning of the project, before anything else had got under way, and his book was by my side throughout. He played a very important part: it would have been difficult to have done the film without him.' [1] The film was premiered in May 2010 on BBC 4 and was reshown on BBC 2 on Christmas Day 2011, introduced by the Prince of Wales to an audience of 1.16 million people, and released on DVD in May 2012. A movement from Parry's Magnificat (1897), 'Et Misericordia', was featured in the film on Dibble's advice (and is also included in full as an extra on the DVD): this resulted in the whole work being programmed at the St Endellion Festival (April 2012) from materials prepared by Dibble, and recorded by Chandos with Neeme Järvi and the BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales. Dibble has also orchestrated excerpts of Parry's unfinished opera Guenever, which was recorded by the BBC Concert Orchestra and released on CD in 2009.

Guenever is one of a number of Dibble's projects to have reached a broadcast audience. Parry featured on Composer of the Week three times in the census period (May 2011, February 2012, June 2013), the second of which included this work. In other broadcasting projects, BBC Radio 3 aired a series of performances recorded in Belfast in February 2011, featuring the Ulster Orchestra, Ulster Youth Choir and Howard Shelley. These included the world premiere of Stanford's Overture in the Style of a Tragedy and the first performance in a century of his Fairy Day, both pieces existing only in manuscript until edited by Dibble. Parry's choral ballet Prosperine was edited and reconstructed from manuscripts by Dibble and performed for the first time since 1912. Broadcasts such as BBC 1's Songs of Praise (24 February 2008, and 19 December 2010), featuring works made available through Dibble's research on Parry and Christmas carols, further extend the reach of this work. The rate of the BBC's production of this emerging repertoire is evidence that it now considers both Parry and Stanford as mainstream composers.

Dibble's work has led to consultancies for several other music festivals, notably the annual Three Choirs Festival, where his research — both in text and music editing — provides an important strand of their performance repertoire. A festival administrator writes that Dibble's `published work and personal advice have often proved invaluable to programme planners seeking guidance on suitable works to include in the Festival programmes.' [2] Apart from the choirs featured in this festival, the BBC National Chorus of Wales, Guildford Choral Society and London Bach Choir are examples of groups to have benefited from Dibble's research and consultancy, while the use of his edition of Parry's `Welcome, Yule!' (OUP) in the Nine Lessons and Carols at King's College Cambridge in 2010 is just one example of the extensive use of Dibble's editions in Anglican churches, cathedrals and chapels. Apart from orchestras cited elsewhere in this document, the English Symphony Orchestra, RTE Symphony, Ulster Orchestra, and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra have all benefitted from Dibble's consultancy. Another example of Dibble's influence in contributing to the concert repertory is his completion of Stanford's Second Violin Concerto, which was premiered in Durham Cathedral on 2 March 2012 to an audience of about 500 people. The success of this event led to a London premiere by Rupert Marshall-Luck with the Orchestra of St Paul's at St John's, Smith Square on 28 February 2013.

CD recordings drawing directly on Dibble's research amount to more than 20 from 2008 to 2013, including premiere recordings of Stanford's Piano Quartet No. 2, Parry's Coronation Te Deum and other items in their oeuvre [9]. Dibble's contribution has consisted of the provision of newly-edited performing materials and booklet notes, and consultation and design of the repertoire with leading recording companies such as Hyperion and Chandos. His contribution to the new Vivat label's recording of choral music by Parry and Stanford included the edition of the Coronation Te Deum and an essay of 4,000 words; the recording reached number one in the UK's specialist classical music chart in its first week of release and was nominated as one of three for the award of 'choral recording of the year' in the Gramophone. The reach of this research is evidenced by the sales figures of the recordings. [text removed for publication]. These sales evidence not only the considerable generated by the companies and a significant amount of work provided for professional orchestras — a profound impact overall on Britain's musical culture.

Sources to corroborate the impact

  1. Transcript of telephone conversation with a film maker who has worked with Dibble on broadcast projects, attesting to the significance and reach of his scholarship and its influence on TV productions.
  2. E-mail from an administrator of the Three Choirs Festival, on Dibble's contribution and the economic impact of the festival.
  3. E-mail from the director of a prominent ensemble and record company, on Dibble's work and its influence, and specifically on his contributions to a recent CD release.
  4. E-mail from a conductor on the impact of Dibble's championing of neglected works and the quality of his editions and orchestrations.
  5. Testimony from the musical director of a civic orchestra, and recording artist, on Dibble's role in popularising the work of British composers.
  6. `Professor and Celt doing battle' - Irish Times review, 10 May 2003.
  7. E-mail from a member of the Stainer family on the decision to consolidate the Stainer archive at Durham, and the role Dibble's research played in this decision; details of Stainer exhibition and use of the archive April 2012-March 2013 from Durham University Library.
  8. Gramophone article, 22 Oct 2012, describing the impact of Dibble's work in the UK music industry http://www.gramophone.co.uk/features/focus/parry-choral-music
  9. List of CDs/Broadcasts by Jeremy Dibble between 2008-13; e-mail from a leading record company detailing sales of recordings based on Dibble's research.
  10. Correspondence from a BBC producer on the impact of Dibble's research on programming and from the Chairman of the Stanford Society, on Dibble's value as society historical and musical advisor, and in raising Stanford, Parry and Stainer's profiles.