Aficionados place terroir above all in fine wine: the particular taste that can only be imparted by a particular combination of factors unique to one place and time. Terroir includes a distinctive, localized, specific combination of factors including soil, climate, and sunlight that give grapes a distinctive character.
Musical performances also have terroir. Musicians, ensembles, choirs, even middle school concert bands, have something that goes beyond objective standards to an intangible, subjective sound. The same can be said for composers.
Hubert Parry (1848 – 1918) is one of a handful of English composers who both created and amplified the English terroir. Parry is best known for the popular (and now ubiquitous football anthem) Jerusalem, which was written near the end of his life, during WWI, to encourage the resolve of the British establishment. The chorales, symphonies, organ works, and cantatas from throughout his career influenced England’s most important composers in the early 20th century.
Parry established the English terroir. He tilled the soil in which Elgar, Holst, and Vaughan Williams soaked up the nutrients that made their music so distinctive.
Sound Theology #168 Playlist: Hubert Parry
I Was Glad (with Vivats) – Parry