A Match, 1880

This is a great rendition of Swinburne’s ‘A Match’ from Poems and Ballads, First Series (1866), by Louis Napoleon Parker (1852-1944). It manages to be sweetly melodic, dramatic and rousing at the same time, with a twist at the line, ‘If you were thrall to sorrow’. The song uses stanzas 1,2,4 & 6 of Swinburne’s poem, with the last mixing metre and phrasing into sado-masochistic concerns, ‘If you were the queen of pleasure, / And I were king of pain’.

Parker, born in France (hence ‘Napoleon’), was a student of the Royal Academy of Music and the organist and director of music at Sherborne. A noted Wagnerian, he was also a hugely successful playwright (The Cardinal, 1903, Disraeli, 1911, Drake, 1912), with many of his plays produced by Sir Herbert Tree at His Majesty’s Theatre in London, and a translator (Ibsen’s Rosmersholm, 1889). His organisation of a huge patriotic and spectacular pageant in Sherborne in 1905 (with a cast of over 900), led to commissions for similar events in Dover, Warwick and York (and other towns and cities), and he went on to organise the historical section of the Lord Mayor’s shows in London.

Music published in London: A Cox, 1880

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