Born in Streatham, Ian Parrott was educated at Harrow School, the Royal College of Music, and New College, Oxford, where he was awarded the D.Mus. (1940). Assistant Director of Music at Malvern College (1937-40), he served in Egypt during the Second World War before resuming his academic career as a Lecturer in Music at Birmingham University (1946-50).
During his 33-year tenure as Gregynog Professor of Music in the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth (1950-83), he toured Canada, America, New Zealand and Fiji as an overseas examiner for Trinity College, London, and acted as an external examiner at the Universities of Bristol, Manchester and Leicester. A founder member and prime mover in the Guild for the Promotion of Welsh Music, he was honoured with the John Edwards Memorial Award (1977) and Guild Fellowship (2003) and named first recipient of Machynlleth Tabernacle Trust's Glyndŵr Award for an outstanding contribution to the arts in Wales (1994).
Professor Parrott was an authority on British music and his publications include Elgar in the Master Musicians Series (1971), Cyril Scott and His Piano Music (1992) and The Crying Curlew: Peter Warlock: Family and Influences (1994). His interest in psychical research is reflected in The Music of Rosemary Brown (1978) and his autobiography Parrottcisms was issued as a British Music Society Monograph (2003).
An equally prolific composer, Ian Parrott's output is headed by four operas, five symphonies, concertos for violin, piano, cor anglais, 'cello and trombone and wind band, and a quantity of choral and chamber music including five string quartets. Luxor (1947), his symphonic impression of the temple complex which he had visited in Egypt, won First Prize of the Royal Philharmonic Society (1949). Other scores such as the opera The Black Ram (1951-53) and the concert overtures Seithenin (1959) and Arfordir Ceredigion (1992) show the influence of Welsh landscape, literature and legend.
Following the death of Gwendoline Davies, Professor Parrott worked with Margaret Davies to revive music-making at Gregynog Hall, bringing his Aberystwyth undergraduates including William Mathias and David Harries to perform at the second sequence of Gregynog Festivals (1956-61). He was uniquely placed to write The Spiritual Pilgrims (1964), a study of the two sisters which remains an essential source for the history of the musical development of Wales, and maintained a strong connection with the present-day Festival, taking real delight in an exhibition to celebrate his 90th birthday (2006) and sharing his memories of Mathias during our 75th anniversary season (2008).
'Prof' had for many years been widely and affectionately regarded as the doyen of Welsh music and his death marks the end of an era for his students, colleagues and friends. Everyone at Gregynog Festival extends sincere sympathy to Ian's family on the passing of this remarkable man and unforgettable personality.