Henry Purcell
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1659-09-10
https://musicbrainz.org/artist/ddea5540-2c7d-4266-8507-b367c2635d35
Henry Purcell Henry Purcell Henry Purcell Henry Purcell

Biography

Born in London in 1659, Henry Purcell was the son of a musician in the retinue of Charles II, and it was royal service that was largely to be his world as well. By the time he was 10 he ...

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Biography

Born in London in 1659, Henry Purcell was the son of a musician in the retinue of Charles II, and it was royal service that was largely to be his world as well. By the time he was 10 he was a chorister at the Chapel Royal, and in 1673, when his voice broke, he became for a while an unpaid assistant to the keeper of the king’s instruments.

His first formal royal appointment came in 1677, when he was created composer-in-ordinary for the violins (in succession to Matthew Locke), and in 1682 he was appointed as one of the organists at the Chapel Royal. In between, he had also become organist of Westminster Abbey (in succession to his teacher and friend, John Blow).

The last years of Charles’s reign were when Purcell composed the bulk of his outstanding output of English church music, culminating in the superb anthems he supplied for the coronation of Charles’s successor, James II, in 1685. His court connections were also responsible for the numerous odes he composed for royal occasions such as birthdays and homecomings, an unpromising genre that he managed to raise to unwonted heights.

The 1680s also saw him beginning to write for the theatre, contributing songs and instrumental pieces to plays by such distinguished Restoration dramatists as Dryden, Congreve and D’Urfey. But it was in 1690 that his theatrical career really took off with the success of Dioclesian, his first venture into the peculiarly English genre of the time, known today as ‘semi-opera’, in which music is mixed with speech. This was followed over the next few years by three works – King Arthur (with words by Dryden); The Fairy Queen (loosely based on A Midsummer Night’s Dream); and The Indian Queen (words again by Dryden) – all written in a similar style.

It is not clear for what purpose Purcell wrote his only through-composed opera, Dido and Aeneas; its first known performance was by pupils at a girls’ boarding school in Chelsea in 1689, but it may have been first produced as a court entertainment some years earlier.

Purcell occupies a central position in British music. More than 300 years after his death he is still arguably the country’s greatest composer, and his music continues to provide successors with both inspiration and a point of cultural identification. Apparent in his church music, stage works and solo songs alike are an exquisite talent for English word-setting, a gift for attractive melody and a capacity for searing expressiveness that have attracted commendation from his own time to ours; he was acclaimed in his own day as ‘the English Orpheus’ and Holst, Vaughan Williams, Britten and Tippett were among his greatest 20th-century admirers. His untimely death at the age of 36 left Britain without a native composer of genius until the arrival of Elgar two centuries later.

Profile © Lindsay Kemp

Clips (16)


Tracks

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Henry Purcell, Monica Sinclair, St. Anthony Singers & English Chamber Orchestra, Cb Anthony Lewis
Wayward sisters...But ere we this perform.
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Wayward sisters...But ere we this perform. Wayward sisters...But ere we this perform. Wayward sisters...But ere we this perform. Wayward sisters...But ere we this perform.
Purcell & London Baroque
Sonata no.6 in G minor Z.807
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Sonata no.6 in G minor Z.807 Sonata no.6 in G minor Z.807 Sonata no.6 in G minor Z.807 Sonata no.6 in G minor Z.807
Psophos Quartet & Henry Purcell
Chacony a 4 for strings (Z.730) in G minor
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Chacony a 4 for strings (Z.730) in G minor Chacony a 4 for strings (Z.730) in G minor Chacony a 4 for strings (Z.730) in G minor Chacony a 4 for strings (Z.730) in G minor
William Christie, Wieland Kuijken, Henry Purcell & Alfred Deller
Oedipus: Music for a While
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Oedipus: Music for a While Oedipus: Music for a While Oedipus: Music for a While Oedipus: Music for a While
Francis Grier, Henry Purcell, Christ Church Cathedral Choir, Oxford & Simon Preston
Evening Service in G minor Z.231
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Evening Service in G minor Z.231 Evening Service in G minor Z.231 Evening Service in G minor Z.231 Evening Service in G minor Z.231
Henry Purcell, Jordi Savall & Le Concert des Nations
The Fairy Queen - Act IV Symphony
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The Fairy Queen - Act IV Symphony The Fairy Queen - Act IV Symphony The Fairy Queen - Act IV Symphony The Fairy Queen - Act IV Symphony
Henry Purcell, Véronique Gens, Les Arts Florissants & William Christie
King Arthur, Act V: 'Fairest Isle'
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King Arthur, Act V: 'Fairest Isle' King Arthur, Act V: 'Fairest Isle' King Arthur, Act V: 'Fairest Isle' King Arthur, Act V: 'Fairest Isle'
Henry Purcell & The Sixteen
Second Music: Air
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Second Music: Air Second Music: Air Second Music: Air Second Music: Air
Henry Purcell, English Baroque Soloists & Sir John Eliot Gardiner
The Indian Queen - Overture
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The Indian Queen - Overture The Indian Queen - Overture The Indian Queen - Overture The Indian Queen - Overture
Henry Purcell & The King's Consort/Robert King
Welcome to all the Pleasures (Ode for St Cecilia's Day)
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Welcome to all the Pleasures (Ode for St Cecilia's Day) Welcome to all the Pleasures (Ode for St Cecilia's Day) Welcome to all the Pleasures (Ode for St Cecilia's Day) Welcome to all the Pleasures (Ode for St Cecilia's Day)

Welcome to all the Pleasures (Ode for St Cecilia's Day)

Performer
The King's Consort/Robert King
Henry Purcell, Musica Antiqua Köln & Reinhard Goebel
Chacony a 4 for strings (Z.730) in G minor
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Chacony a 4 for strings (Z.730) in G minor Chacony a 4 for strings (Z.730) in G minor Chacony a 4 for strings (Z.730) in G minor Chacony a 4 for strings (Z.730) in G minor
Henry Purcell & Sax Ecosse
Fantazia 6
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Fantazia 6 Fantazia 6 Fantazia 6 Fantazia 6
Anthony Rooley, Henry Purcell & Emma Kirkby
Sweeter than Roses
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Sweeter than Roses Sweeter than Roses Sweeter than Roses Sweeter than Roses
Paul Elliott, Michael George, Henry Purcell, Lynne Dawson, Gillian Fisher, Rogers Covey-Crump, Stephen Varcoe, Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists & Sir John Eliot Gardiner
Timon of Athens, the man-hater - incidental music (Z.632)
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Timon of Athens, the man-hater - incidental music (Z.632) Timon of Athens, the man-hater - incidental music (Z.632) Timon of Athens, the man-hater - incidental music (Z.632) Timon of Athens, the man-hater - incidental music (Z.632)
Henry Purcell, Baroque Brass of London & David Hill
The Queen's Funeral March
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The Queen's Funeral March The Queen's Funeral March The Queen's Funeral March The Queen's Funeral March
Henry Purcell, Anthony Lewis, English Chamber Orchestra & Dido: Janet Baker
Dido & Aeneas: 'Thy hand Belinda... When I am laid in earth'
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Dido & Aeneas: 'Thy hand Belinda... When I am laid in earth' Dido & Aeneas: 'Thy hand Belinda... When I am laid in earth' Dido & Aeneas: 'Thy hand Belinda... When I am laid in earth' Dido & Aeneas: 'Thy hand Belinda... When I am laid in earth'

Dido & Aeneas: 'Thy hand Belinda... When I am laid in earth'

Conductor
Anthony Lewis
Singer
Dido: Janet Baker
Henry Purcell, Monteverdi Orchestra, Equale Brass Ensemble & Sir John Eliot Gardiner
Funeral Music for Queen Mary - drum recessional
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Funeral Music for Queen Mary - drum recessional Funeral Music for Queen Mary - drum recessional Funeral Music for Queen Mary - drum recessional Funeral Music for Queen Mary - drum recessional
Tamar Halperin, Henry Purcell & Andreas Scholl
Sarabande from Suite no. 2 in G minor Z.661; Man is for a woman made
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Sarabande from Suite no. 2 in G minor Z.661; Man is for a woman made Sarabande from Suite no. 2 in G minor Z.661; Man is for a woman made Sarabande from Suite no. 2 in G minor Z.661; Man is for a woman made Sarabande from Suite no. 2 in G minor Z.661; Man is for a woman made
Tamar Halperin, Tamar Halperin, Henry Purcell, Robert Johnson & Andreas Scholl
Interlude (Halperin); 3 songs by Purcell and Johnson
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Interlude (Halperin); 3 songs by Purcell and Johnson Interlude (Halperin); 3 songs by Purcell and Johnson Interlude (Halperin); 3 songs by Purcell and Johnson Interlude (Halperin); 3 songs by Purcell and Johnson
Henry Purcell, Richard Egarr & Catherine Bott
Music for a while (Oedipus - incidental music to Act 3 Z.583: no.2)
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Music for a while (Oedipus - incidental music to Act 3 Z.583: no.2) Music for a while (Oedipus - incidental music to Act 3 Z.583: no.2) Music for a while (Oedipus - incidental music to Act 3 Z.583: no.2) Music for a while (Oedipus - incidental music to Act 3 Z.583: no.2)
Henry Purcell, Accademia Bizantina, Stefano Montanari, Andreas Scholl & Christophe Dumaux
Come ye sons of art away ... (Z.323) [1694], 3; Sound the trumpet 'till around
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Come ye sons of art away ... (Z.323) [1694], 3; Sound the trumpet 'till around Come ye sons of art away ... (Z.323) [1694], 3; Sound the trumpet 'till around Come ye sons of art away ... (Z.323) [1694], 3; Sound the trumpet 'till around Come ye sons of art away ... (Z.323) [1694], 3; Sound the trumpet 'till around
Henry Purcell, Armonico Consort & Christopher Monks
Dido & Aeneas, Overture and ‘Great minds against themselves conspire’
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Dido & Aeneas, Overture and ‘Great minds against themselves conspire’ Dido & Aeneas, Overture and ‘Great minds against themselves conspire’ Dido & Aeneas, Overture and ‘Great minds against themselves conspire’ Dido & Aeneas, Overture and ‘Great minds against themselves conspire’
Henry Purcell, Rosemary Standley, Helstroffer’s Band & Helstroffer’s Band
An Evening Hymn
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An Evening Hymn An Evening Hymn An Evening Hymn An Evening Hymn
Henry Purcell, Alison Balsom, Trevor Pinnock, The English Concert & Iestyn Davies
Sound the trumpet, beat the drum Z.335 for soloists, chor & str (Birthday song for King James)
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Sound the trumpet, beat the drum Z.335 for soloists, chor & str (Birthday song for King James) Sound the trumpet, beat the drum Z.335 for soloists, chor & str (Birthday song for King James) Sound the trumpet, beat the drum Z.335 for soloists, chor & str (Birthday song for King James) Sound the trumpet, beat the drum Z.335 for soloists, chor & str (Birthday song for King James)

Sound the trumpet, beat the drum Z.335 for soloists, chor & str (Birthday song for King James)

Last played on
Henry Purcell, Accademia Bizantina, Stefano Montanari & Andreas Scholl
Dido and Aeneas - When I am laid in earth
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Dido and Aeneas -  When I am laid in earth Dido and Aeneas -  When I am laid in earth Dido and Aeneas -  When I am laid in earth Dido and Aeneas -  When I am laid in earth
Henry Purcell, Armonico Consort & Christopher Monks
Dido & Aeneas: Overture
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Dido & Aeneas: Overture Dido & Aeneas: Overture Dido & Aeneas: Overture Dido & Aeneas: Overture
Taverner Choir, Henry Purcell, Taverner Players, Emma Kirkby & Andrew Parrott
Dido and Aeneas Act 3 finale
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Dido and Aeneas Act 3 finale Dido and Aeneas Act 3 finale Dido and Aeneas Act 3 finale Dido and Aeneas Act 3 finale
Andrew Parrott, Henry Purcell & Taverner Players
Echo Dance of Furies
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Echo Dance of Furies Echo Dance of Furies Echo Dance of Furies Echo Dance of Furies
Sholto Kynoch, Henry Purcell & Mary Bevan
Mad Bess of Bedlam
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Mad Bess of Bedlam Mad Bess of Bedlam Mad Bess of Bedlam Mad Bess of Bedlam
Henry Purcell & London Baroque
Chacony a 4 in G minor, Z730
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Chacony a 4 in G minor, Z730 Chacony a 4 in G minor, Z730 Chacony a 4 in G minor, Z730 Chacony a 4 in G minor, Z730
Henry Purcell, William Cristie & Les Arts Florissants Orchestra
King Arthur – Chaconne
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King Arthur – Chaconne King Arthur – Chaconne King Arthur – Chaconne King Arthur – Chaconne

King Arthur – Chaconne

Conductor
William Cristie
Orchestra
Les Arts Florissants Orchestra
Last played on
John Henry & Henry Purcell
Suite for keyboard no. 5 (Z.666) in C major, Pt.4; Saraband [Z.665`4]
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Suite for keyboard no. 5 (Z.666) in C major, Pt.4; Saraband [Z.665`4] Suite for keyboard no. 5 (Z.666) in C major, Pt.4; Saraband [Z.665`4] Suite for keyboard no. 5 (Z.666) in C major, Pt.4; Saraband [Z.665`4] Suite for keyboard no. 5 (Z.666) in C major, Pt.4; Saraband [Z.665`4]

Suite for keyboard no. 5 (Z.666) in C major, Pt.4; Saraband [Z.665`4]

Performer
John Henry
Last played on
King's Consort, Robert King, Crispian Steele-Perkins & Henry Purcell
The Duke of Gloucester's trumpet suite
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The Duke of Gloucester's trumpet suite The Duke of Gloucester's trumpet suite The Duke of Gloucester's trumpet suite The Duke of Gloucester's trumpet suite
Il Tempo Ensemble & Henry Purcell
Sonata No.6 for 2 violins and continuo in G minor (Z.807)
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Sonata No.6 for 2 violins and continuo in G minor (Z.807) Sonata No.6 for 2 violins and continuo in G minor (Z.807) Sonata No.6 for 2 violins and continuo in G minor (Z.807) Sonata No.6 for 2 violins and continuo in G minor (Z.807)

Sonata No.6 for 2 violins and continuo in G minor (Z.807)

Ensemble
Il Tempo Ensemble
Roy Goodman, Henry Purcell & The Parley of Instruments
King Arthur; or, The British Worthy Z628
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King Arthur; or, The British Worthy Z628 King Arthur; or, The British Worthy Z628 King Arthur; or, The British Worthy Z628 King Arthur; or, The British Worthy Z628
Henry Purcell, Jordi Savall & Hespèrion XX
Sonata in two parts, for violins and basso continuo
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Sonata in two parts, for violins and basso continuo Sonata in two parts, for violins and basso continuo Sonata in two parts, for violins and basso continuo Sonata in two parts, for violins and basso continuo
Henry Purcell, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Dorothea Röschmann, Arnold Schönberg Chor & Concentus Musicus Wien
The Fairy Queen Act V
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The Fairy Queen Act V The Fairy Queen Act V The Fairy Queen Act V The Fairy Queen Act V
Henry Purcell, Véronique Gens, Les Arts Florissants & William Christie
King Arthur; Fairest Isle
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King Arthur; Fairest Isle King Arthur; Fairest Isle King Arthur; Fairest Isle King Arthur; Fairest Isle
Ivan Hadliyski, Henry Purcell, Alipi Naydenov & Kammerorchester
Sonata for trumpet, strings and basso continuo in D major
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Sonata for trumpet, strings and basso continuo in D major Sonata for trumpet, strings and basso continuo in D major Sonata for trumpet, strings and basso continuo in D major Sonata for trumpet, strings and basso continuo in D major

Sonata for trumpet, strings and basso continuo in D major

Performer
Ivan Hadliyski
Conductor
Alipi Naydenov
Orchestra
Kammerorchester
Henry Purcell, The London Classical Players & Sir Roger Norrington
The Fairy Queen (Dances)
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The Fairy Queen (Dances) The Fairy Queen (Dances) The Fairy Queen (Dances) The Fairy Queen (Dances)
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