'An idealist touched by practicality’: the work and influence of Richard Runciman Terry (1864–1938)

PhD Thesis

De Livet, C. 2018. 'An idealist touched by practicality’: the work and influence of Richard Runciman Terry (1864–1938). PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University Creative Arts and Industries
AuthorsDe Livet, C.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification nameDoctor of Philosophy

Richard Runciman Terry resigned from Westminster Cathedral in 1924 after twenty threeyears as Director of Music. During his tenure, and for the previous four years at Downside Abbey, a substantial corpus of fifteenth and sixteenth-century music was recovered by Terry from a range of manuscripts, bringing a previously forbidden and neglected repertoire back to use and public notice. The consequences of this work were far-reaching, directly influencing the compositions of his contemporaries and simultaneously contributing to the reception of Latin into Anglican liturgy. This thesis examines Terry’s significant contribution to music in the early twentieth-century and more broadly the shift in national cultural attitudes to the use of Latin in worship. The manuscripts which were the subject of Terry’s palaeography are examined, with his work on the only surviving polyphonic Mass by John Merbecke presented as a case study. Terry’s own compositional cycle is assessed and his work with carols, hymns and sea shanties has been considered. His relevance today is assessed in addition to the lost opportunities during his lifetime to secure a lasting legacy. The often justified criticism of Terry’s working practices is examined, as well as the outright hostility to him personally from a small group of musicologists of the Anglican establishment. The present study has been achieved with extensive research of the Westminster Cathedral archives, Terry’s own numerous writings and those of others shaping the reception of his work. The early twentieth century was a period of substantial interest in the music of the past. This study seeks to identify Terry’s contribution to the fledgeling early-music movement and contextualise his work within the conflicted history of English church music.

KeywordsMusic; Musicology; Catholic church music; Church music; Richard Runciman Terry; School of English Church Music
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Deposited23 Jan 2020
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