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Chapter Five: Theatre Music

Prior to 1843, only three London theatres were permitted – at any rate, in theory – to produce what was termed 'legitimate' drama. These were the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, the Haymarket and Covent Garden. In London, and also to an extent in the other burgeoning cities, a boom in theatre-building took place in the later years of the nineteenth century. This followed in the wake of the general migration from rural districts to towns and cities which was such a dominant feature of nineteenth-century demography. Sir Hubert Parry is most usually thought of as the creator of noble oratorios, rather than of theatre music. Yet, over a period of some thirty years, he too wrote for the theatre: six scores of incidental music, which favour classical Greek rather than modem English drama. Edward German's incidental music lent itself to issue in the form of suites, and these suites were published for all manner of instrumental combinations.