Episode 268. William Parker Redux

Episode 268. William Parker Redux



Today I revisit the life and legacy of lyric baritone William Parker (05 August 1943 – 29 March 1993), to whom I devoted an entire episode exactly a year ago. To further explore his unmatched contribution to the art of song, I present a second episode which was originally published as a bonus episode at the same time and which features Will in four contrasting song cycles by Charles Wakefield Cadman, Claude Debussy, Aaron Copland, and Francis Poulenc, recorded between 1975 and 1987, when he was in his absolute prime. He is accompanied by William Huckaby, Gérard van Blerk, and the late Rudolf Jansen. Also included are two haunting settings of Herman Melville’s “Billy in the Darbies,” a segment added posthumously to his Billy Budd novella; in two settings by Robert Evett and Ernst Bacon. Also included is a haunting setting by John Jacob Niles of a Thomas Merton poem. The episode is prefaced by a brief tribute to the pianist Norman Shetler, who died yesterday in Austria nine days after observing his 93rd birthday; as well as a brief introduction by Will Parker’s nephew, Mark Doty.


Norman Shetler

Johannes Brahms, Georg Friedrich Daumer: Unbewegte, laue Luft, Op. 57/8. Elly Ameling, Norman Shetler [1968]

All selections feature William Parker, baritone

Charles Wakefield Cadman, Nelle Richmond Eberhart: Four American Indian Songs, Op. 45. William Huckaby [1977]

  • I. From the Land of the Sky-Blue Water
  • II. The White Dawn is Stealing
  • III. Far Off I Hear a Lover’s Flute
  • IV. The Moon Drops Low
A young William Parker recording for Radio Nederland

Claude Debussy, Tristan L’Hermite: Le promenoir des deux amants, L 129. Gérard van Blerk [radio recording 26.VIII.75]

  • I. Auprès de cette grotte sombre
  • II. Crois mon conseil, chère Climène
  • III. Je tremble en voyant ton visage
Gérard van Blerk
Aaron Copland and Benjamin Britten, who commissioned and premiered these songs

Traditional American, arr. Aaron Copland: Old American Songs, Set I. Willam Huckaby [1987]

  • I. The Boatmen’s Dance
  • II. The Dodger
  • III. Long Time Ago
  • IV. Simple Gifts
  • V. I Bought Me a Cat
William Parker in a photo for a New York Times story about the AIDS Quilt Songbook

Two settings of Billy in the Darbies (Herman Melville):

Robert Evett
  • Robert Evett. Virgil Blackwell, William Huckaby, Columbia String Quartet [Benjamin Hudson, Carol Zeavin, Janet Hill, André Emelianoff] [1980]
  • Ernst Bacon. William Huckaby [1980]
Ernst Bacon
John Jacob Niles

John Jacob Niles, Thomas Merton: For My Brother: Reported Missing in Action, 1943. William Huckaby [1978]

Thomas Merton

Francis Poulenc, Guillaume Apollinaire: Banalités, FP 107. Rudolf Jansen [1979 radio recording]

  • I. Chanson d’Orkenise
  • II. Hôtel
  • III. Fagnes de Wallonie
  • IV. Voyage à Paris
  • V. Sanglots
Rudolf Jansen

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