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
Since the Duke is return'd, Z271
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Since the Duke is return'd, Z271

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Henry Purcell
The Fairy Queen - Act II - A Bird's Prelude
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The Fairy Queen - Act II - A Bird's Prelude
Henry Purcell
The Fairy Queen (Act 4 Symphony)
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The Fairy Queen (Act 4 Symphony)
Henry Purcell
Sound the trumpet (Come ye sons of art)
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Sound the trumpet (Come ye sons of art)
Henry Purcell
Fairest Isle (King Arthur)
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Fairest Isle (King Arthur)
Henry Purcell
Chacony in G minor Z. 730
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Chacony in G minor Z. 730
Henry Purcell
King Arthur: Act III, sc.2: Prelude
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King Arthur: Act III, sc.2: Prelude
Henry Purcell
Ground in C minor ZD 221
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Ground in C minor ZD 221
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
Fantazia no. 11 in G major Z.742
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Fantazia no. 11 in G major Z.742
Henry Purcell
Fantazia no. 6 in F major Z.737
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Fantazia no. 6 in F major Z.737
Henry Purcell
Purcellian tune
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Purcellian tune
Henry Purcell
Music for a while
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Music for a while
Henry Purcell
Dido and Aeneas - opera in 3 acts Z.626 i Act 3, no.37; Thy hand, Belinda ii no.38; When I am laid in earth (Dido's lament)
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Dido and Aeneas - opera in 3 acts Z.626 i Act 3, no.37; Thy hand, Belinda ii no.38; When I am laid in earth (Dido's lament)
Henry Purcell
Strike the viol (Come ye sons of art)
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Strike the viol (Come ye sons of art)
Henry Purcell
The Duke of Gloucester's trumpet suite
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The Duke of Gloucester's trumpet suite
Henry Purcell
How Blest are shepherds (King Arthur); Fairest Isle (King Arthur)
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How Blest are shepherds (King Arthur); Fairest Isle (King Arthur)
Henry Purcell
She loves, and she confesses too (A song upon a ground)
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She loves, and she confesses too (A song upon a ground)
Henry Purcell
If music be the food of love (third setting)
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If music be the food of love (third setting)
Henry Purcell
King Arthur, Z628; Grand Dance - Chaconne
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King Arthur, Z628; Grand Dance - Chaconne
Henry Purcell
Sonata in three parts No.10 in A major, Z.799
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Sonata in three parts No.10 in A major, Z.799
Henry Purcell
Here the deities approve (Welcome to all the pleasures, Z.339)
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Here the deities approve (Welcome to all the pleasures, Z.339)
Henry Purcell
Sonata IX in F major 'Golden'
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Sonata IX in F major 'Golden'
Henry Purcell
Music for a While
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Music for a While
Henry Purcell
King Arthur, Z. 628, Act I: Prelude, Song & Chorus - Come If You Dare
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King Arthur, Z. 628, Act I: Prelude, Song & Chorus - Come If You Dare
Henry Purcell
Chacony a 4 for strings in G minor, Z730
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Chacony a 4 for strings in G minor, Z730
Henry Purcell
When night her purple veil had softly spread
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When night her purple veil had softly spread
Henry Purcell
Trumpet Suite
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Trumpet Suite

Trumpet Suite

Performer
Blagoj Angelovski
Velin Iliev
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
Fantazia in F major upon one note
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Fantazia in F major upon one note
Henry Purcell
Chaconne in G minor Z.T680
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Chaconne in G minor Z.T680
Henry Purcell
Music for a while (Oedipus, Z.583)
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Music for a while (Oedipus, Z.583)

Music for a while (Oedipus, Z.583)

Ensemble
Ensemble Unmeasured
Last played on
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
O dive custos Auriacae domus
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O dive custos Auriacae domus
Henry Purcell
Dido And Aeneas: Thy Hand, Belinda - When I Am Laid In Earth
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Dido And Aeneas: Thy Hand, Belinda - When I Am Laid In Earth
Henry Purcell
Hail, bright Cecilia (Symphony)
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Hail, bright Cecilia (Symphony)
Henry Purcell
Chacony in G minor, Z.730
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Chacony in G minor, Z.730
Henry Purcell
King Arthur, or The British worthy Z.628: What pow'r art thou
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King Arthur, or The British worthy Z.628: What pow'r art thou
Henry Purcell
O dive custos Auriacae domus, Z504
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O dive custos Auriacae domus, Z504
Henry Purcell
In vain the am'rous flute (from Hail, Bright Cecilia!, Z328)
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In vain the am'rous flute (from Hail, Bright Cecilia!, Z328)
Henry Purcell
Fairest isle, all isles excelling (King Arthur)
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Fairest isle, all isles excelling (King Arthur)
Henry Purcell
I call you all to Woden's hall (King Arthur)
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I call you all to Woden's hall (King Arthur)
Henry Purcell
Aire, from Amphitryon (King Arthur)
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Aire, from Amphitryon (King Arthur)
Henry Purcell
Wondrous machine (Hail! Bright Cecilia)
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Wondrous machine (Hail! Bright Cecilia)
Henry Purcell
The Fairy Queen (Prelude; Hornpipe; Air; Rondeau; Overture)
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The Fairy Queen (Prelude; Hornpipe; Air; Rondeau; Overture)
Henry Purcell
Thy word is a lantern
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Thy word is a lantern

Thy word is a lantern

Choir
Edington Festival Choir
Henry Purcell
Jehova, quam multi sunt hostes mei (Z.135)
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Jehova, quam multi sunt hostes mei (Z.135)
Henry Purcell
Dido's Lament (Dido and Aeneas)
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Dido's Lament (Dido and Aeneas)
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Past BBC Events

BBC Singers 2019-20: BBC Singers at Cutty Sark
https://www.bbc.co.uk/events/e4wbc8
Cutty Sark
2019-11-10T14:35:10
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10
Nov
2019
BBC Singers 2019-20: BBC Singers at Cutty Sark

BBC Singers 2019-20: BBC Singers at Cutty Sark

Cutty Sark
Proms 2018: Prom 20: Ten Pieces Prom
https://www.bbc.co.uk/events/ebhz3d
Royal Albert Hall
2018-07-29T14:35:10
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/208x117/p061r7gy.jpg
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
2018-07-29T14:35:10
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

Latest Henry Purcell News

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