Charles Hazlewood


Charles Hazlewood outlines the plans for Purcell broadcasts during the Composers of the Year celebrations. Charles was filmed specially for the website in the Church of St Martin-within-Ludgate in the City of London. There has been a church on the site since 1174; the current building was completed in 1680 after the previous church was gutted in the Great Fire of London (1666).


Composers of the Year (Radio 3) and The Birth of British Music (BBC Two) is a celebration of the lives of four magnificent composers throughout 2009. The year marks the 350th anniversary of Purcell's birth, the 250th anniversary of Handel's death, the 200th anniversary of Haydn's death and the 200th anniversary of Mendelssohn's birth.

Henry Purcell was born in London in 1659 and probably never left the city. He spent most of his short life working as organist at Westminster Abbey. Yet in his 36 years, Purcell made a huge contribution to Britain's musical DNA. Radio 3 is celebrating the 350th anniversary of Purcell's birth with two special weekends in March and November. There's opera – King Arthur, The Fairy Queen and Dido & Aeneas; there's keyboard music, performed on original instruments; and there are two special choral evensongs from Westminster Abbey where Purcell is buried. Throughout the year, Radio 3 will bring you music, discussion and debate – everything you need for a journey into Purcell's world.

BBC Music Composer Profile


purcell manuscript

Radio 3 presents a wonderful weekend of concerts, documentaries and drama on the life and work of Henry Purcell.

Click for Purcell Weekend details


Birth of British Music - Purcell - Sheldonian

You can watch special extra video and interview footage from BBC 2 TV's Birth of British Music, Episode 1 (Purcell) here. 

Click for the video page



Visit the Purcell picture gallery for a fascinating visual guide to Purcell's life and times.

Click to enter the Gallery


A Tribute to Mr Purcell - Radio 3 presents five programmes in The Essay, celebrating the 350th anniversary of Purcell's birth. The talks, by leading commentators, reflect different aspects of the distinguished English composer.

Download Episode 1- Purcell and Royalty
Biographer Jonathan Keates on Purcell's music in the context of his royal patrons.

Download Episode 2 - Purcell in Performance
Andrew Parrott on researching and performing Purcell's Hail! Bright Cecilia.

Download Episode 3 - Purcell on the Stage
Roger Savage on Purcell's musical creations for the theatre.

Download Episode 4 - Purcell's Reputation
Andrew Pinnock on how Purcell's skills as an entrepreneur helped enhance his reputation

Download Episode 5 - Purcell Re-Interpreted
Nicholas Kenyon on how Purcell's music has been preserved, revived and interpreted.

Bonus Download - Composer of the Week: Henry Purcell
Donald Macleod explores the composer's life and work. This episode is an edited compilation of the entire week's programmes, broadcast earlier this year, and is only available within the UK.

Download Composer of the Week - Purcell

Help with downloading


BBC TWO logo

The Composers of the Year feature in a BBC 2 series, in May 2009 - Charles Hazlewood introduces the programmes.

More about the series


The music of Purcell features throughout the year on BBC Radio 3. For the Radio 3 schedule, visit


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