The Parlour Song – October House Concert

Oct 2nd, 2010 | By | Category: Member Concerts

by James Gentry

The Parlour or Parlor Song, as we know it, is essentially a product of the 1800’s thru the 1920’s. People would get together in their parlours and entertain themselves —- what a novel idea!

Of course this was done in all countries but it was most popular in England and later in America. The best parlour songs come from these two countries. Then along came the advent of television and movie theaters and it all started to end —- the parlours even disappeared from homes.

The songs contained a wide range of topics and themes, almost anything you can imagine can be found somewhere, but the topics of Love, Death, & War (back when war was considered patriotic) were the most common. There were thousands written —- many never published and therefore are completely lost, but, fortunately many have survived.

I have been collecting Parlour, also called Victorian/Edwardian songs, now for about 20 years. I have well over 1,000 in my collection. I love to spend time just singing through them and finding songs that suit me and fit me vocally.

Fortunately, The Saturday Club has been keeping this tradition alive for well of 150 years holding “get-togethers” in people’s homes featuring all types of music and local artists. For my concert on October 16th, I have chosen some of my favorite Parlour Songs which I love singing.

– James Gentry


Samuel Osborne Barber II (March 9, 1910 – January 23, 1981) was an American composer of orchestral, opera, choral, and piano music. His Adagio for Strings is his most popular composition and widely considered a masterpiece of modern classical music. He was twice awarded the Pulitzer Prize for music, for his opera Vanessa and his Concerto for Piano and Orchestra. His Knoxville: Summer of 1915, a work for soprano and orchestra, was an acclaimed setting of prose by James Agee.

This being the 100th anniversary of Barber’s birth year I have decided to perform his infrequently performed DOVER BEACH for baritone and string quartet to word of a Victorian poem by Matthew Arnold.

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