KS2: Henry Purcell - Abdelazer – Rondeau
Composed in 1695, Henry Purcell's Abdelazer suite takes us back to the theatres and masques (presentations of poetry, dance and music) of the late 17th Century. Henry Purcell wrote lots of incidental music for the theatre. In some ways it was used as film music is used today – to set different moods and transport us between different parts of the story.
Purcell's music influenced one of our other Ten Pieces composers, Benjamin Britten. He used this Rondeau as the basis for The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra – another great piece for children to explore.
Listen out for: The structure of the piece. Purcell was using a pattern – or plot – called a French rondeau to create his piece. The structure is: AABACA. A is the main melody, B is the strain, C is the second strain, and then it goes back to the beginning!
BORN: 1659 / DIED: 1695 / NATIONALITY: British
England's greatest composer until the 20th Century, Henry Purcell was an organist and composer who is still much admired for his English songs. He was from a musical family who lived very close to Westminster Abbey and as a youngster was made a chorister and then assistant to the organist and 'Keeper of the King's Instruments'. During this time, he learnt his craft composing mostly vocal music whenever the opportunity came his way.
Later, he split his time between writing sacred music for the Abbey, royal commissions and music for the theatre. Today, over 300 songs of his survive. Purcell died aged just 35 or 36. It seems that he was late home from the theatre and his wife locked him out. He caught a chill after spending the night outside and died shortly after from it. He is buried in Westminster Abbey and was mourned as a 'very great master of music'.
Six weeks of learning and activities Download lesson plans for six weeks of learning and activities for Rondeau, as Powerpoint presentations or PDFs. These lesson plans are ideal for music lessons, but you can of course use the Ten Pieces in many other subjects and activities. Take a look at our video masterclasses for inspiration.
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Primary lesson plans:
Lesson plan by Rachel Leach
Key Stage 2 in England and Wales
Second Level, P5-P7 in Scotland
*Key Stage 1/Key Stage 2 in Northern Ireland
Arrangements: Play the piece with simplified parts
All parts have been designed to work together to enable mixed-ability groups to perform together
- 1st Violin | 2nd Violin | Viola | Cello | Double bass
- Flute | 2nd Flute | Clarinet in B♭ | Oboe | Alto saxophone | Bassoon
- Trumpet in B♭ | Trombone | Trombone in B♭ | Tenor horn in E♭ | Horn in F | Euphonium | 2nd Euphonium | Tuba | Bass in B♭ (tuba)
- Timpani | Glockenspiel
- Download all of the Grade 4-5 parts in one .zip file
- Grade 4-5 full score
Notes from the arranger
By Iain Farrington
All parts have been designed to work together to enable mixed-ability groups to perform together. A certain amount of simplification has been required to adapt the pieces for mixed-ability. Some pieces have been cut to allow a 3-5 minute general duration and to remove especially difficult passages of music. A successful rendering of each piece would require the essential melodic material and bass line which are often in the Grades 4/5 parts, especially in the piano.
There are scores for each difficulty level plus three other scores for each piece:
- Grouped according to ability
- Grouped according to instrument type
- 'Short score' in C, grouped according to ability
There are three ability levels – beginner, intermediate (Grades 1-3) and Grades 4-5.
- Flute parts can be played by the violins
- Oboe parts can be played by the flutes and violins
- Trumpet parts (in Bb) can be played by the clarinets
- Violin parts can be played by the flutes (except when in the lowest register)
- The 'percussion' part is a beginner part and can be played on any drum. It adds a simple rhythm layer to each piece. Timpani and full percussion parts are for intermediate or Grades 4/5