Main content
Sorry, this episode is not currently available

Watershed Year

Donald Macleod explores the music and life of Henry Purcell. Today's focus is on a single year, 1680, in which Purcell emerged as one of the greatest contrapuntists of his time.

Donald Macleod explores the music and life of Henry Purcell. Today the focus is on a single year, 1680, in which Purcell emerged as one of the greatest contrapuntists of his time.

1680 was a year of firsts for Purcell – he wrote his first music for stage, fulfilled his first commission for a royal ‘welcome’ ode, took his first (and only) wife, and made his first foray into the world of chamber music, with a sequence of nine fantazias of such dazzling contrapuntal ingenuity and brilliance – not to mention expressive maturity – that you have to marvel at how a composer of just 20 could have possibly pulled off such a dazzling feat.

Theodosius, Z606 (‘Hail to the myrtle shade’)
Judith Nelson, soprano
James Bowman, countertenor
The Academy of Ancient Music
Christopher Hogwood, director

Fantazia IV in G minor, Z735
Fantazia V in B flat major, Z736
London Baroque

Theodosius, Z606 (Act 1, scene 1)
Emma Kirkby, Judith Nelson, sopranos
James Bowman, countertenor
Martyn Hill, tenor
David Thomas, bass
The Academy of Ancient Music
Christopher Hogwood, director

Fantazia VIII in D minor, Z739
Fantazia VI in F major, Z737
Fretwork

‘Welcome, vicegerent of the mighty king’, Z340
The Sixteen
Harry Christophers, conductor

Fantazia X in E minor, Z741
Fantazia XI in G major, Z742
Ricercare Consort
Philippe Pierlot, director

Produced by Chris Barstow for BBC Cymru Wales

59 minutes

Music Played

  • Henry Purcell

    Theodosius, Z606 (Hail to the myrtle shade)

    Singer: Emma Kirkby. Singer: Judith Nelson. Singer: James Bowman. Singer: Martyn Hill. Singer: David Thomas. Orchestra: Academy of Ancient Music. Conductor: Christopher Hogwood.
    • DECCA 425 893-2.
    • DECCA.
    • 17.
  • Henry Purcell

    Fantazia IV in G minor, Z735

    Orchestra: London Baroque.
    • BIS : CD-1165.
    • BIS.
    • 4.
  • Henry Purcell

    Fantazia V in B flat major, Z736

    Orchestra: London Baroque.
    • BIS : CD-1165.
    • BIS.
    • 5.
  • Henry Purcell

    Theodosius, Z606: Act I, Scene 1

    Singer: Judith Nelson. Singer: James Bowman. Ensemble: Academy of Ancient Music. Conductor: Christopher Hogwood.
    • DECCA 425 893-2.
    • DECCA.
    • 21.
  • Henry Purcell

    Fantazia VIII in D minor, Z739

    Ensemble: Fretwork.
    • HARMONIA MUNDI : HMU-907502.
    • HARMONIA MUNDI.
    • 8.
  • Henry Purcell

    Fantazia VI in F major, Z737

    Ensemble: Fretwork.
    • HARMONIA MUNDI : HMU-907502.
    • HARMONIA MUNDI.
    • 7.
  • Henry Purcell

    Welcome, vicegerent of the mighty king, Z340

    Choir: The Sixteen. Conductor: Harry Christophers.
    • CORO COR16163.
    • CORO.
    • 2.
  • Henry Purcell

    Fantazia X in E minor, Z741

    Ensemble: Ricercar Consort. Director: Philippe Pierlot.
    • MIRARE MIR012.
    • MIRARE.
    • 12.
  • Henry Purcell

    Fantazia XI in G major, Z742

    Ensemble: Ricercar Consort. Director: Philippe Pierlot.
    • MIRARE MIR012.
    • MIRARE.
    • 13.

Broadcast

Composers A to Z

Composers A to Z

Visit the extensive audio archive of Radio 3 programmes about Composers and their works.

Who knew? Five eye-opening stories from Composer of the Week

Who knew? Five eye-opening stories from Composer of the Week

The production team reflects on 5 of Donald Macleod’s best stories from the last 20 years

A man out of time – why Parry's music and ideas were at odds with his image...

A man out of time – why Parry's music and ideas were at odds with his image...

The composer of Jerusalem was very far from the conservative figure his image suggests.

Five reasons why we love Parry's Jerusalem

Five reasons why we love Parry's Jerusalem

What is the strange power of Jerusalem which makes strong men weep?

Composer Help Page

Composer Help Page

Find resources and contacts for composers from within the classical music industry.