Katharine Parker (1886-1971)

Tasmanian composer

1. Brief biography

"Kitty" Parker, as she was known throughout her life, is one of many women composers, I suspect, whose music deserves to be better known than it is. Born in 1881 into a sheep-farming family from Lake River, near Longford in Tasmania, she studied at the Conservatorium in Melbourne, graduating with Honours. In 1908 she began lessons in London with Percy Grainger, who thought highly of both her pianistic and creative talents. He later orchestrated Down Longford Way and also wrote: "Down Longford Way is full of sheer genius - especially that genius which I feel counts most: a sense of largeness in form and the power to unfold naturally." She and Grainger remained friends for many years until his death in 1961. The early accounts by Parker of the Grainger soirées in pre-war London make for fascinating reading.

Kitty married the English tenor Hubert Eisdell in 1912 and established a career as an accompanist. Most of her tiny output is in the form of songs, clearly with Hubert in mind. The vicissitudes and eventual collapse of the marriage in 1930 must have taken their toll, however, and the Musical Sketches date from her early productive period during the twenties. She finally returned to Melbourne in 1947 and eventually took a job at 7LA community radio in Launceston in 1950. She once wrote: "I feel that I had something in me to have done, so much more than I have done in every way."

2. List of published works

Piano solo:

Nocturne (Augener 1925)

A Water Colour (Augener 1925)

Four Musical Sketches (Winthrop Rogers 1928)

One Summer Day

A Patchwork of Shadows

Red Admiral

Down Longford Way

Arc-en-Ciel (Augener 1936)


To a Seagull (Cramer 1925) (Words by Dorothy Williams)

Désirée (Chappell 1924) (Words by Wenda Arthur)

Six Songs (Winthrop Rogers 1928)

Yellow's the robe for honour

I am disquieted

The night's before us yet

The willows by the Eastern gate

I wait my Lord

You've two-score, three-score years before you yet

A Lesson in Love (Cary & Co. 1914)

My Wish (Boosey & Co. 1913)

The Sweetest Face (Boosey & Co. 1913)

In a Poppy Field (Cary & Co. 1914)

The Old Folks at Home [Melody by S.C.Foster] arranged as a vocal duet by KP (Boosey & Co. 1930)

I don't care (Francis, Day & Hunter 1927)

Love ships (Cary 1914)

Love in the valley (Augener 1913) (Words by George Meredith)

The light of the lotus (Newman 1915) love songs of Japan:

1. My lttle Samisen

2. Lotus lanterns

3. The little dwarf tree

(Words by G. Douglas Furber)

For my friend Beryl Freeman

The music and the words (Augener 1913) (Words by Herbert Bedford)

The road to love (Chappell 1922)

As a star (Augener 1913)

2a. Uncertain


(all attributed to Hubert Eisdell)

Beneath a shady Tree (Cary & Co 1919)

A little Wooing (Chappell & Co 1920)

Loughareema (Cramer & Co 1924)

A Walk with Lucy (Metzler & Co 1922)

Wherefores and Whys (Metzler & Co 1922)

3. Unpublished works


You've got me in the hollow of your hand MS Slow blues (authenticity doubtful)

Brushing up the leaves MS Fox-trot song

Come, my love MS for Max Oldaker

Forget-me-not MS

The Moon is alone in the sky

Coronation/Empire song

String quartet

Waltz song ("I don't care"?)


1. A string quartet is mentioned by KP in a letter to Percy Grainger

2. KP refers to a Coronation Song in a letter to Percy Grainger dated

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