Parke, John (DNB00)

PARKE, JOHN (1745–1829), oboist, born in 1745, studied the oboe under Simpson and musical theory under Baumgarten. William Thomas Parke [q. v.] was his younger brother. In 1768 John was appointed principal oboe at the opera; and in the same year he played at the first Birmingham festival (Bunce), and also at the Three Choirs festival at Hereford. He continued to perform at the Three Choirs festivals for thirty-five years.

In 1768 Fischer, the Dresden oboist, first came to London; his performances stimulated Parke to greater ambition. He improved his style, and two years afterwards succeeded Fischer as concerto-player at Vauxhall (cf. A B C Dario). In 1771 he accepted an advantageous offer from Garrick, always a good friend, to become first oboe at Drury Lane Theatre. This did not preclude his engagement by Smith and Stanley as a principal at the Lenten oratorios, and in the summer at Ranelagh and Vauxhall Gardens.

The Duke of Cumberland took Parke (1783) into his band, led by Baumgarten, and the Prince of Wales employed him at the Carlton House concerts, with a salary of 100l. He was a prominent performer at the Antient, the professional, and other concerts. In 1815, at the age of seventy, he retired; and he died in London on 2 Aug. 1829. He composed some oboe concertos, but did not publish them. Henry Parke [q. v.], the architect, was his son.

His eldest daughter, Maria Hester Parke, afterwards Beardmore (1775–1822), vocalist, pianist, and composer, born in 1775, was trained by her father. On 11 Feb. 1785 she first appeared as pianist at an oratorio concert. It was then the custom to interpolate solos and concertos between the parts of an oratorio. Miss Parke's concerto, in the middle of the ‘Messiah,’ displayed ‘neat and brilliant execution, together with great taste and expression. She was loudly applauded.’ In 1790 she came out at the Three Choirs festival as second singer, and in 1794–7, and 1807, as principal soprano. Thenceforward she was heard at many London concerts, oratorios, and provincial festivals. She was a good musician, scientific and accurate in her singing; but she retired from her profession on her marriage with John Beardmore of Queen Street, Mayfair, in 1815. She died in July 1822, aged 47.

Miss Parke published: 1. ‘Three Grand Sonatas for the Pianoforte,’ 1795 (?) 2. ‘Two grand Sonatas … with an Accompaniment for the Violin.’ 3. ‘A Set of Glees (Six, including the Dirge in Cymbeline),’ 1800? 4. ‘Two Sonatas for Pianoforte or Harpsichord.’

[Dictionary of Musicians, ii. 262; Georgian Era, iv. 319, 346; Grove's Dictionary, ii. 650; Bunce's Birmingham Musical Festivals, p. 64; Public Advertiser, 1 and 16 Oct. 1787, 13 April 1784; Annals of the Three Choirs, passim; Mrs. Papendieck's Journal, i. 94, ii. 295; Gent. Mag. 1815, i. 80; Annual Register, 1822, p. 288; Musical Memoirs, passim; Miss Parke's compositions.]

L. M. M.