Henry Parkes is interested in the music and liturgy of the medieval Latin church, above all in Germany ca. 800–1200. After graduating with a first-class degree in music from the University of Oxford, he earned a Ph.D. in musicology at the University of Cambridge, where he was subsequently appointed as a postdoctoral research fellow at Gonville and Caius College. Prior to coming to Yale in 2014, he also served as a visiting lecturer at the University of Cambridge and at Royal Holloway, University of London.
In both his teaching and his research, Parkes specializes in the various interactions between European sacred music, the means and experience of its performance, and its written remains. His first book, The Making of Liturgy in the Ottonian Church (Cambridge, 2015), considered the historical testimony of early medieval liturgical books, not only as the means of uncovering Christian ritual practices of the past, but also as the embodiments of changing ideas about religious ritual and its organization. Central to this study was a revisionist account of the celebrated but long misunderstood Romano-German Pontifical, an extraordinary encyclopedia of liturgical wisdom produced in Germany ca. 1000.
His current research project explores the notion of auctoritas in Western European liturgy at the turn of the first millennium, with a particular focus on the developing concept of ‘Gregorian’ chant. Supported by a Humboldt Fellowship in 2017/18, jointly held at the Monumenta Germaniae Historica in Munich and the Institut für Musikforschung at the University of Würzburg, he is currently assembling an editio princeps of the collected liturgical commentaries of Bern of Reichenau, a famous early eleventh-century intellectual who was himself deeply invested in these issues.
Aside from academia, Parkes holds an FRCO diploma in organ, and has held organist positions at a number of the UK’s leading Anglican choral foundations. Until his move to Yale he regularly shared the concert platform with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
M.A. University of Oxford; Ph.D. University of Cambridge