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The Roland Parry Collection

Identifier: MS-023


Roland Parry’s original music manuscripts are the major part of this collection. Many of these manuscripts show the progression of his compositions from first melody sketches to the completed works.

A collection of recordings (discs) of All Faces West, “A Song Saga of Western Pioneers On The March,” is included.

Photographs, concert programs, newspaper clippings; in which are published articles by, or about Roland parry and his compositions and musical performances, are part of the collection.

Gloria Parry Walter gives this explanation of the absence of correspondence in the Parry papers:

Letters are non-existent in my father’s files because most of his business and communication with performers and admirers of his work was by telephone.


  • Other: Date Not Yet Determined

Biographical / Historical

Roland Parry, musician and composer of a wide variety of music forms and professor of music at Weber State College, was born in 1897 in Ogden, Utah. After a year of college at the University of Utah, he spent four years in New Zealand as an L.D.S. missionary. While he was there, the urge to create and arrange new music became very strong, and that urge never left him. Several of his songs are still sung in New Zealand. He and James Elkington translated the first L.D.S. songs into the Maori language.

Returning home he met and married Helen Talmage, daughter of James E. Talmage. In 1935 he obtained a Master of Arts degree at Brigham Young University. He already had become a teacher at Weber College before receiving this degree.

There was no music department at Weber College when he joined the faculty in 1930. Roland Parry pioneered the development of a music department at Weber. As the College expanded, and when several other capable musicians joined the faculty, Mr. Parry decided to put his full energy into his teaching, leaving the administrative demands of the Music Department in the hands of someone else. He felt that by so doing he could do more composing in his off-campus hours. Such planning proved to be the best thing for him and the College.

His oratorio, A Child is Born, began to take shape in those earliest years. It was a different texture of music—seven choirs placed distantly apart from the stage, from the balcony, from the sides of the auditorium and from the orchestra pit, each unit singing its different arrangement in monophonic, polyphonic or homophonic texture. The Assembly Hall on Temple Square proved to be the perfect place for this novel type of production when the Weber State singers and community choirs performed it as one of the Centennial Celebration offerings for four performances in 1946.

At this time it was called antiphonal singing for want of a more truly correct name. The new word stereophonic comes closer to this new texture. It has, in the near past, been called directional music. Mr. Parry coined the word stereophony—perhaps for this texture of music.

The W.S.C. Fine Arts Building with its magnificent auditorium was dedicated at Christmas time, 1964. A major production of A Child is Born was chosen for that dedicatory occasion.

A year of intensive study was spent at the University of Southern California. Then, two years of special post-graduate work at Columbia University and civic achievement in musical composition earned Mr. Parry the rank of full professor in 1960. Membership in the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers came in that same year.

There has been a consistent flow of composition throughout the years—more than one hundred songs of wide variety, three musical comedies, two cantatas, two overtures, one symphony, and the two major compositions:

A Child is Born has been presented more than fifty times throughout northern Utah. All Faces West has been presented forty-seven times in Utah and nine times in New Zealand with a New Zealand cast and directed by the composer. This became a traditional annual event in Ogden commemorating the Twenty-fourth of July, with three or four performances each year, and continuing for eighteen years.

Igor Gorin, one of the great singers of the world, has sung the Parry songs year after year all over the globe in concert, on record, on radio, and on television. On the Telephone Hour broadcast with Mr. Gorin and the Symphony Orchestra, fifteen minutes was devoted to All Faces West. Wallace McGill, producer of the Telephone Hour has this to say: “I have the album of All Faces West, and I can’t count the times I’ve played the Prayer. This music has always impressed me as having a certain spiritual quality which I find difficult to describe, but I know it touches people emotionally. We are happy that the reaction to our Telephone Hour Presentation was so favorable.”

The Miracle of the Gulls was performed in Town Hall, New York, by the New York University Choir and Symphony Orchestra in 1951, Dr. Kurtzveil conducting. It was performed in the San Diego Bowl Festival in 1960 by the California Mormon Choir with Frederic Davis conducting.

The Tulsa Symphony Orchestra, The United States Army Band, The California Mormon Choir in the Los Angeles Philharmonic Hall, Voice of America—all of these have performed this music which is so indigenous to Utah.

Professor Parry, feeling the racial injustice in the world today, completed two numbers reflecting this feeling—one is the ten-minute art song, The Little Black Boy, the poem by William Blake, and the other a cantata realistically titled Scum of the Earth.

Helen Talmage Parry, Roland’s wife, has written inspirational lyrics for many of his best compositions.

“The Book of Golden Deeds” of the National Exchange Club honored the Parrys in 1953 for their achievement, All Faces West. In 1964 Governor Clyde of Utah presented the Distinguished Citizens Citation to the Parrys because of the national and international recognition that has come to Utah through their musical achievements.

After his retirement in 1965, Roland Parry continued to compose prolifically. During this period his beautiful Art Songs were written, as were of a group of “Cantabiles”, especially for the piano. Lyrical and melodious, they are considered to be among his best loved compositions although they have not been widely performed. A monumental creation, The Polynesian Symphony, came forth and was completed shortly before his death. It has never been performed in its entirety. Roland Parry died on October 18, 1977 in Ogden, Utah, still actively engaged in composition.


23 Boxes

Language of Materials



Box 1 A Child is Born

Box 2 A Cild is Born

Box 3 All Faces West

Box 4 All Faces West

Box 5 All Faces West

Box 6 All Faces West

Box 7 All Faces West

Box 8 All Faces West

Box 9 Polynesia Maori Suit

Box 10 Tone Poem Orchestrations

Box 11 Te Haka

Box 12 Instrumental Masters

Box 13 Song Masters

Box 14 Song Masters

Box 15 Song Masters

Box 16 Song Masters

Box 17 Song Masters

Box 18 Song Masters

Box 19 Photographs

Box 20 News Clippings, 1951-1959

Box 21 Miscellaneous Materials

Box 22 Recordings

Box 23 Recordings

Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the WSU Stewart Library Special Collections Repository

3921 Central Campus Drive Dept 2901
Ogden UT 84408