xxxxxThe English composer Henry Purcell wrote over 500 works for church, stage, court and private entertainment. In 1682 he was appointed composer to the King’s Musick, writing My Heart is Inditing of a Good Matter for the coronation of James II, and Thou Knowest Lord for Queen Mary’s funeral in 1694. His masterpiece, Dido and Aeneas, was composed in 1689, and is regarded as the first English opera. He also wrote the incidental music for the masque The Fairy Queen, an anonymous and lively adaptation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He produced many songs, duets, anthems and string sonatas, and many of his songs and “rounds” became popular in his lifetime.
HENRY PURCELL c1659 -
Purcell: by the German portrait painter John Closterman (1660-
xxxxxThe English baroque composer Henry Purcell wrote more than 500 works, and these included music for the church, the stage, and court and private entertainment. He was born at Westminster, London, the son of a court musician, and was a chorister at the Chapel Royal by the age of ten. Such was his talent that he was appointed composer for Charles II's string orchestra in 1677, and became organist at Westminster Abbey two years later. In 1682 he was appointed composer to the King's Musick. In this capacity he played at court functions, and wrote many odes and anthems for royal occasions, including two of his finest works, My Heart is Inditing of a Good Matter for the coronation of James II in April 1685, and the anthem Thou Knowest Lord for Queen Mary's funeral in 1694.
xxxxxHis masterpiece, Dido and Aeneas of 1689, was originally sung by pupils at a girls' school in Chelsea, and is generally regarded as the first English opera. The German-
xxxxxBut a vast amount of his output was concerned with theatre music in the form of overtures, interludes, songs and dances. He provided incidental music for no less than 43 plays, including The Indian Queen, Love Triumphant, and a patriotic opera called King Arthur or The British Worthy by the English dramatist John Dryden. King Arthur in particular -
xxxxxRegarded by some as the greatest natural genius of English music, Purcell's melodies are highly original, and are composed with ease and spontaneity over a remarkably wide spectrum of musical ability. Dryden, who knew him better than most, wrote of "the excellent composition of Mr Purcell in whose person we have at length found an Englishman equal with the best abroad". Unfortunately, he died of consumption before reaching the age of 40. He was the first musician to be buried in Westminster Abbey -
xxxxxIncidentally, his work The Libertine, produced in 1692, contains the song Nymphs and Shepherds come away. …… Purcell was the first composer to use the trumpet to good effect.
and François Couperin
xxxxxPurcell was considerably influenced by the Italian violinist and conductor Arcangelo Corelli (1653-
xxxxxA composer who had considerable influence upon Purcell was the Italian violinist and conductor Arcangelo Corelli (1653-
xxxxxDetails of his early life are sketchy, but it is known that he was born at Fusignano in northern Italy and that he was taught to play the violin while at the chapel of San Petronio in Bologna. After a four-
xxxxxIn 1700 he was first violinist and conductor for the concerts of the Palazzo della Cancelleria (The Papal Chancellery), and two years later he visited Naples. Whilexthere it is believed that he played for the king and performed a work by his fellow countryman Alessandro Scarlatti (1660-
xxxxxAnd a German baroque composer of this period who deserves a mention is the organist and composer Johann Pachelbel (1653-
xxxxxIn addition, a Frenchman who was greatly influenced by the works of Corelli was the composer and brilliant harpsichord player François Couperin (1668-