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Henry Purcell

Composer match-up

1685 - 1750

1756 - 1791

1833 - 1897

1653 - 1713

1685 1759

Richard Wagner

Arcangelo Corelli

W. A. Mozart

J. S. Bach

Ludwig van Beethoven

1770 - 1827

1813 - 1883

1873 - 1943

Johannes Brahms
Sergei Rachmaninoff

G. F. Handel

Arcangelo Corelli

Sergei Rachmaninoff

1770 - 1827

Henry Purcell

1659 - 1695

Brief Background
Died aged 36
Baroque composer, taught by John Blow
Lived through the reign of four monarchs, Charles II, James II, Mary II and
William III
He wrote music for different purposes:
Court music for royal entertainment
Chamber music
Sacred music
Organ music
One opera Dido and Aeneas

Purcells World
English monarchy is restored in 1660 after the civil wars (1642-51)
seeing Charles II ascend to the throne
Great Plague (1665-66), Great Fire of London (1666)
Laws of Gravity defined by Newton (1672)
Glorious Revolution of 1688 sees James II (brother of Charles II)
overthrown as king of England
James II replaced by William III, whose wife was Mary II, and who
were both Protestant
The revolution permanently ended any chance of a re-establishment
of Catholicism in England

Purcells Style
Purcells music is almost always dependent on contrapuntal textures
He wrote for a wide variety of purposes, using a wide variety of
instruments, from instrumental solos to anthems for the coronation
of James II
His works display French and German influences, such as decorated
melodies, regular changes in harmony, regular rhythms and
independent lines working simultaneously
His legacy is considered as a uniquely English form of barque music
Purcells music is further characterised by ambitious harmonies

Ambitious Harmony
My Belovd Spake

One of Purcells best loved works.

Ambitious harmony on the word
turtle (4.28), similar to harmonies
Schubert would have used

Hear my prayer O Lord

Organ Music
He became the organist of Westminster Abbey aged just 20
Organ voluntary on the 100th Psalm:

Chamber Music
Fantasia for Viols:

Chaconne in G minor:

Didos Lament from Dido and Aeneas:
Regarded as one of the first English operas, Venus and Adonis of
John Blow (Purcells teacher) is its only substantial all-sung dramatic
Set Work:
Blows Venus and Adonis:

Name the composer

Three are by Purcell, two are by other famous composers
Purcell: Suite from king Arthur

Purcell: Abdelazer Suite


Schubert: Serenade

Handel: Water music


Purcell: O solitude

Purcell is generally regarded as the most important English composer
Until the arrival of Elgar in 1857 there was no other great English
He has influenced a wide range of musicians, including Britten, The
Who and Jeff Buckley

Brittens Young Persons Guide to the Orchestra is based on a theme
by Purcell:

The Who
Pete Townshend of The Who identified Purcells harmonies as
an influence in the bands music.
Such influences are particularly noticeable in the intro to
Pinball Wizard, written in 1969:
Townshend also highlighted influences in the songs Wont get
fooled again and I can see for miles


Purcell or not Purcell?

That is the Question

Became organist at Westminster Abbey aged 20

Wrote more than one hundred songs
Born in 1653
Died before his 40th birthday
Died by chocolate poisoning
Is buried adjacent to the organ at Westminster abbey
Was a prolific opera composer
Father was called Henry Purcell