Henry Purcell

2935 words 12 pages
Henry Purcell is seen as one of the greatest composers of the Baroque period and one of the greatest of all English composers. His earliest surviving works date from 1680 and show a complete command of musical composition. They include some fantasias for viols, masterpieces of contrapuntal writing, and more contemporary sonatas for violins, which reveal some acquaintance with Italian models. Purcell, in his time, became increasingly in demand as a composer, and his theatre music in particular made his name familiar to many who knew nothing of his church music or the odes and welcome songs he wrote for the court of three different kings over twenty-five years.
To begin to chronicle the life of Henry Purcell is a difficult task as there is
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It is also interesting to note that the English twenty-four violins, so close in imitation to the older French version, had no French players in its panel.
Most of the compositional work Purcell did for this group has not survived the passing of time. The only string works that exist outside of his theater music, symphonies, anthems and odes is a collection of fantasias from 1680. The only positive evidence of Purcell's composition in the court of King Charles the second is New Ayres and Dialogues (1678) and Choice Ayres (1679)(Westrup, p33).
Along with his duties to the King's Court, in 1679 Purcell inherited the position of organist of Westminster Abbey from his mentor John Blow (Holman, Groves). It was not unusual for Purcell a man of his twenties to be appointed to such a position, as Blow had been around that same age when he was appointed and Michael Wise was also before Blow. This appointment must have perfected his composition and playing of religious music, as the King's Court had on his more secular workings. And having tuned the organ at the abbey for four years from 1674-1678 he must have understood all the inner workings of his instrument.
There are no official records of the lives of the men working at the abbey, one can imagine in such a mixed group of men that personal


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