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Henry Purcell

Donald Macleod and Bruce Wood explore Purcell's life and work.

Donald Macleod and Purcell scholar Bruce Wood begin by looking at the important events of Purcell's early years. The years of the Commonwealth were lean times for musicians. The restoration of monarchy brought the re-establishment of Royal Music and young Purcell was quick to follow in the family tradition in the service of the King.

Donald Macleod and Bruce Wood then chart Purcell's progress in his early 20s. By this time he was married and working at Charles II's court. He was also holding down duties at Westminster Abbey. Life was good, yet tinged at the same time with sadness as he had to cope with a number of deaths in his family including two of his own children.

Donald Macleod and Bruce Wood turn to Purcell's earliest theatrical jobs, looking at what effect the political intrigues of the time had on Purcell's other jobs as a court and church musician. Versatility was a necessity in Purcell's age. Early on in his career he successfully dipped his toe into theatrical waters, producing some hit music for Nathaniel Lee's Theodosius.

Donald Macleod is joined by Bruce Wood to consider how Purcell responded to two very different reigns: the Catholic James II and Protestants William and Mary of Orange.

Donald Macleod is joined by Bruce Wood to explore Purcell's theatrical interests in his later years. Following the accession of William and Mary of Orange, music at court was scaled down. Purcell turned very successfully to the stage and became involved in several ground-breaking dramatic works including King Arthur and The Fairy Queen.

Release date:


1 hour, 6 minutes


Role Contributor
Composer Henry Purcell

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