Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Whatever happened to catchphrase quotations

Guess the composer (not Parry)
Watching the Prince of Wales' recent programme on the composer Parry I was struck by an error in an old catchphrase. It was an interesting programme - I think someone else could have presented it better, but it was good to get a bit more of Parry exposed. (I was a bit disappointed in all the mentioning of Elgar and Vaughan Williams there was no mention of the man who, I think, eclipsed Parry as an Edwardian British composer, Sir Charles Villiers Stanford.)

The catchphrase in question was one that was uttered by a friend, now sadly dead, in a choir I used to sing in whenever we did anything by Parry. He would say: 'Ah, Sir C. Hubert Harry Parry!' Which is now firmly locked in my mind as an association with Parry. The funny thing is, it was wrong. Parry's third name seems to have been Hastings, not Harry.

This made me think of other shaky catchphrase quotations, like 'Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him well.' This misquote was very common in my youth. In fact practically anyone faced with a skull (in a non-serious setting) would come out with it (or if they were better educated the actual quotation). This seems to be a dying art. We seem to be losing these literary catchphrases, which I think is rather sad. Of course it may be that only the people I was exposed to when young used to do it, but I find this hard to believe.

In the meantime, and in support of my non-existent campaign to give Stanford the same recognition that Parry now seems to be belatedly getting, take a listen to Stanford's cracking Beatus Vir. It's not a great performance, I'm afraid, but it's the only one I could find on YouTube:




Image from Wikipedia

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