Henry Purcell
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1659-09-10
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Henry Purcell

Henry Purcell Biography (BBC)

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

Henry Purcell Biography (Wikipedia)

Henry Purcell (c. 10 September 1659 – 21 November 1695) was an English composer. Although incorporating Italian and French stylistic elements into his compositions, Purcell's legacy was a uniquely English form of Baroque music. He is generally considered to be one of the greatest English composers; no later native-born English composer approached his fame until Edward Elgar, Ralph Vaughan Williams, William Walton and Benjamin Britten in the 20th century.

This entry is from Wikipedia, the user-contributed encyclopedia. It may not have been reviewed by professional editors and is licensed under an Attribution-ShareAlike Creative Commons License. If you find the biography content factually incorrect or highly offensive you can edit this article at Wikipedia. Find out more about our use of this data.

Henry Purcell Performances & Interviews


Henry Purcell Tracks

Henry Purcell
Fairy Queen (Chaconne)
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Fairy Queen (Chaconne)

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Henry Purcell
Music for a While
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Music for a While
Henry Purcell
King Arthur
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King Arthur
Henry Purcell
Fairy Queen Act V
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Fairy Queen Act V
Henry Purcell
Sweeter than roses
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Sweeter than roses
Henry Purcell
Pavan (Z.752) and Chacony (Z.730) for 4 instruments in G minor
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Pavan (Z.752) and Chacony (Z.730) for 4 instruments in G minor
Henry Purcell
When I am laid in earth (Dido and Aeneas)
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When I am laid in earth (Dido and Aeneas)
Henry Purcell
Chacony in G minor, Z730
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Chacony in G minor, Z730

Chacony in G minor, Z730

Ensemble
Psophos Quartet
Henry Purcell
The Fairy Queen, Act 5; 'They shall be as happy'
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The Fairy Queen, Act 5; 'They shall be as happy'
Henry Purcell
The Fairy Queen, First Musik: Prelude & Hornpipe
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The Fairy Queen, First Musik: Prelude & Hornpipe
Henry Purcell
Trumpet Suite
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Trumpet Suite

Trumpet Suite

Performer
Blagoj Angelovski
Velin Iliev
Henry Purcell
Fairest Isle
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Fairest Isle
Henry Purcell
O solitude, my sweetest choice
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O solitude, my sweetest choice
Henry Purcell
Sweeter than Roses
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Sweeter than Roses
Henry Purcell
The Gordian knot unty'd, Z.597
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The Gordian knot unty'd, Z.597
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)
Henry Purcell
4 Dances from 'Abdelazer'
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4 Dances from 'Abdelazer'
Henry Purcell
Rejoice in the Lord alway, Z.49 (Bell Anthem)
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Rejoice in the Lord alway, Z.49 (Bell Anthem)
Henry Purcell
Dido's Lament [Dido & Aeneas]
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Dido's Lament [Dido & Aeneas]
Henry Purcell
See I obey / Turn thine eyes / My torch indeed [The Fairy Queen]
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See I obey / Turn thine eyes / My torch indeed [The Fairy Queen]
Henry Purcell
Ye twice ten hundred deities [The Indian Queen]
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Ye twice ten hundred deities [The Indian Queen]
Henry Purcell
Come, ye sons of Art, away (Ode for the birthday of Queen Mary (1694), Z323)
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Come, ye sons of Art, away (Ode for the birthday of Queen Mary (1694), Z323)

Come, ye sons of Art, away (Ode for the birthday of Queen Mary (1694), Z323)

Singer
Anna Mikolajczyk
Henning Voss
Robert Lawaty
Miroslaw Borczynski
Choir
Sine Nomine Chamber Choir
Orchestra
Concerto Polacco Baroque Orchestra
Henry Purcell
King Arthur (End of Act 2)
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King Arthur (End of Act 2)
Henry Purcell
O dive custos Auriacae domus Z.504 (O dive custos)
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O dive custos Auriacae domus Z.504 (O dive custos)
Henry Purcell
An Evening Hymn
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An Evening Hymn
Henry Purcell
Love's Goddess Sure Was Blind (Birthday Ode for Queen Mary), Z.331 & Suite for Strings in G Major, Z.77
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Love's Goddess Sure Was Blind (Birthday Ode for Queen Mary), Z.331 & Suite for Strings in G Major, Z.77
Henry Purcell
Hush no more (The Fairy Queen)
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Hush no more (The Fairy Queen)

Hush no more (The Fairy Queen)

Music Arranger
Performer
Marnix Dorrenstein
Henry Purcell
Rejoice in the Lord Alway
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Rejoice in the Lord Alway
Henry Purcell
Fantazia in F major upon one note
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Fantazia in F major upon one note
Henry Purcell
Fairy Queen (Chaconne)
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Fairy Queen (Chaconne)
Henry Purcell
Sweeter than Roses (Pausinius)
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Sweeter than Roses (Pausinius)
Henry Purcell
Nymphs and Shepherds (The Libertine, Z.600)
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Nymphs and Shepherds (The Libertine, Z.600)
Henry Purcell
Chacony in G minor
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Chacony in G minor
Henry Purcell
Sound the Trumpet
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Sound the Trumpet

Sound the Trumpet

Orchestra
Oriana Concert Orchestra
Last played on
Henry Purcell
The Fairy Queen Z.629: Suite
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The Fairy Queen Z.629: Suite
Henry Purcell
The Tempest, or The enchanted isle Z.631
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The Tempest, or The enchanted isle Z.631
Henry Purcell
Welcome to all the pleasures - Ode for St Cecilia's Day Z.339
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Welcome to all the pleasures - Ode for St Cecilia's Day Z.339
Henry Purcell
'Tis nature's voice - Soul of the world (Hail, Bright Cecilia, Z.328)
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'Tis nature's voice - Soul of the world (Hail, Bright Cecilia, Z.328)
Henry Purcell
Sonata No 2 in B flat major, Z.791
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Sonata No 2 in B flat major, Z.791
Henry Purcell
King Arthur (Overture)
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King Arthur (Overture)
Henry Purcell
Remember not Lord our offences
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Remember not Lord our offences

Remember not Lord our offences

Performer
Choir
Royal Birmingham Conservatoire Chamber Choir
Conductor
Henry Purcell
Oedipus - incidental music to Act 3 Z.583
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Oedipus - incidental music to Act 3 Z.583
Wendy Carlos
A Clockwork Orange (1972) - Funeral March for Queen Mary
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A Clockwork Orange (1972) - Funeral March for Queen Mary
Henry Purcell
Rejoice in the Lord alway (Z.49) "Bell Anthem"
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Rejoice in the Lord alway (Z.49) "Bell Anthem"

Rejoice in the Lord alway (Z.49) "Bell Anthem"

Singer
Choir
Sine Nomine Chamber Choir
Orchestra
Concerto Polacco Baroque Orchestra
Henry Purcell
Fairy Queen - Hornpipe in D minor
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Fairy Queen - Hornpipe in D minor
Henry Purcell
If music be the food of love
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If music be the food of love
Henry Purcell
Timon of Athens, the man-hater - incidental music (Z.632)
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Timon of Athens, the man-hater - incidental music (Z.632)
Henry Purcell
Abdelazer - incidental music (Z.570), Rondeau
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Abdelazer - incidental music (Z.570), Rondeau
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Past BBC Events

Proms 2018: Prom 20: Ten Pieces Prom
https://www.bbc.co.uk/events/ebhz3d
Royal Albert Hall
2018-07-29T20:44:31
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29
Jul
2018
Proms 2018: Prom 20: Ten Pieces Prom

Proms 2018: Prom 20: Ten Pieces Prom

Royal Albert Hall
Proms 2018: Prom 19: Ten Pieces Prom
https://www.bbc.co.uk/events/e94wxj
Royal Albert Hall
2018-07-29T20:44:31
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/208x117/p061r7gy.jpg
29
Jul
2018
Proms 2018: Prom 19: Ten Pieces Prom

Proms 2018: Prom 19: Ten Pieces Prom

Royal Albert Hall

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