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Henry Purcell

Henry Purcell

Born: 1659 Died: 1695

Born in 1659, Henry Purcell was the finest and most original composer of his day. Though he was to live a very short life (he died in 1695) he was able to enjoy and make full use of the renewed flowering of music after the Restoration of the Monarchy.

As the son of a musician at Court, a chorister at the Chapel Royal, and the holder of continuing royal appointments until his death, Purcell worked in Westminster for three different Kings over twenty-five years.

In the Chapel Royal young Purcell studied with Dr. John Blow. Dr. Burney, the eighteenth century historian, is amusingly skeptical on this point: "..... he had a few lessons from Dr. Blow, which were sufficient to cancel all the instructions he had received from other masters, and to occasion the boast inscribed on the tomb-stone of Blow, that he had been 'Master to the famous Mr. Henry Purcell'." Legend has it that when, in 1679, Purcell succeeded Dr. Blow as organist of Westminster Abbey, the elder musician stepped aside in recognition of the greater genius, and it is true that on Purcell's death in 1695 Blow returned to the post, and would write a noble Ode on the Death of Purcell.

In addition to his royal duties Purcell also devoted much of his talent to writing operas, or rather musical dramas, and incidental stage music; but he would also write chamber music in the form of harpsichord suites and trio sonatas, and became involved with the growing London public concert scene. Indeed one of the most important musical developments in Restoration London was the gradual establishment of regular public concerts. Even the few meetings that began as private concerns were eventually prevailed upon to admit the general public, such as the group that gave concerts in the Castle Tavern. Whereas other organizations charged only a shilling, their admittance fee was more than twice that sum, and before long they had enough capital to equip a music room in York Buildings.

By the time Henry Purcell began to attend such concerts in the 1670s there were many highly skilled players of the violin, cello, and flute, as well as exponents of the (for London) relatively new art of playing continuo instruments, the most usual being the organ and the harpsichord. In 1683 a group of gentlemen amateurs, and professional musicians started a "Musical Society" in London to celebrate the "Festival of St. Cecilia, a great patroness of music" which any music-lover so desirous may still celebrate yearly on November 22nd. They asked Henry Purcell, then only 24, to be the first to write an Ode for their festivals; Purcell was to compose two more such Odes for the Society.

The writing of incidental theater music seems not to have been regarded by Purcell as embarrassing or beneath his dignity as Organist of Westminster Abbey. He was in the very midst of a tradition that not only permitted but actually encouraged well-known church musicians to provide lighter music for the theatre and opera, and this was an accepted practice in the great continental cities as well as in London. Most of Purcell's theatre music was written between 1690 and 1695 (the year of his death), and within that relatively brief period he supplied music for more than forty plays. Much of the instrumental music was published in 1697, when the composer's widow compiled A Collection of Ayres, Compos'd for the Theatre, and upon Other Occasions. This body of music, viewed as a whole, shows that Purcell gave to the theatre some of his happiest melodic inspirations, distributed among solemn overtures, cheerful or pathetic airs, and delightful dances of every imaginable kind.

There is hardly a department of music, as known in his day, to which Purcell did not contribute with true distinction. His anthems were long since accorded their place in the great music of the church; there are enough fine orchestral movements in his works for the theatre to establish him in this field; his fantasies and sonatas entitle him to honor in the history of chamber music; his keyboard works, if less significant in themselves, hold their place in the repertory; his one true opera. Dido and Aeneas, is an enduring masterpiece, and his other dramatic works (sometimes called operas) are full of musical riches. And, most especially, Purcell's songs themselves would be sufficient to insure his immortality. His sensitivity to his texts has been matched by few masters in musical history; when he had worthy poetry to set, he could hardly fail to produce a masterpiece.

Featured Items (See Related Items.)

Displaying 1-4 of 4 items.


Henry Purcell : Purcell Anthology : SATB : 01 Songbook : Henry Purcell : 0193533510

Henry Purcell : Purcell Anthology

Review: The tercentenary of the death of world-famous English Baroque composer Henry Purcell (most widely known for his opera "Dido and Aeneas") will be celebrated everywhere. This volume offers an opportunity to choral associations to join the celebration. With Purcell's expertise in setting the English language, ten of the eleven anthems are in English (one in Latin). The editor, secretary to the Purcell Society, has selected those most representative and most useful, from among the composer's prodigious output.

Songlist: Hear My Prayer, O Lord, I Was Glad, O God, the King Of Glory, Remember not, Lord, Our Offences, Thou Knowest, Lord, The Secrets Of Our Hearts, Jehova, Quam Multi Sunt Hostes Mei!, Lord. How Long Wilt Thou Be Angry, O God, Thou Art My God, Thy Word Is A Latern, O Sing unto The Lord, Rejoice In The Alway

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9151b | Songbook $19.95 | SATB add item to cart English Choral Arrangements


Chanticleer : Purcell - Evening Prayer : 00  1 CD : Joseph Jennings : Henry Purcell : 60290

Chanticleer : Purcell - Evening Prayer

Review: The Bay Area's acclaimed 12-man vocal ensemble celebrates the release of their 27th recording, collaborating with the dynamic instrument ensemble Capriccio Stravagante, directed by Skip Sempe. Henry Purcell (1659-95), son of a Royal musician, wrote beautiful, expressive church music, from the ecstatic to the sublime. Eight songs, from a lovely 8-minute opening cut, "Rejoice in the Lord alway" and the jubilant "I was glad," written for James II's coronation, to the short, deeply moving "Hear My Prayer, O Lord" and the 16-minute final cut, "My heart is inditing," Purcell's grandest composition for the church. The perfect accompaniment of Capriccio fits perfectly with Chanticleer's flawless singing. "Evening" is inspirational and pleasing on many levels. Beautiful, extensive liner notes.

Songlist: Rejoice in the Lord alway ('The Bell Anthem') , Remember not, Lord, our offences, I was glad, O Lord, rebuke me not, Praise the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, Now that the sun hath veiled his light ('An Evening Hymn')-, Hear my prayer, O Lord, My heart is inditing

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6939c | 1 CD $15.98 add item to cart


Choir of Clare College : Purcell Choral Works : 00  1 CD : Timothy Brown : Henry Purcell : RRC 1029

Choir of Clare College : Purcell Choral Works

Review: The choral works of Henry Purcell (1659 -95) are sung here with near perfection under the direction of Timothy Brown.

Songlist: Te Deum, Jubilate Deo, My Beloved Spake, O God, Thou Art My God, Lord, How Long Wilt Thou Be Angry, Remember Not, Lord Our Offences, Here My Prayer Oh Lord, Thou Knowest Lord, Funeral March , Man That Is Born Of Women, In The MIdst Of Life, Canzona

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8435c | 1 CD $15.95 add item to cart English Choral CDs


Oxford New College Choir : Sacred Music of Henry Purcell : 00  1 CD : Edward Higginbottom : Henry Purcell : 84432

Oxford New College Choir : Sacred Music of Henry Purcell

Review: For such transcendent music to succeed, it has to be performed with sufficient technical prowess. This the Choir commands, and they add to it under Higginbottom's direction, a full realisation of the unparalled range of expression at Pucell's command.

Songlist: Blow Up The Trumpet In Sion , The Lord Is King, Be The People , Lord, What Is Man, Lost Man , Let Mine Eyes Run Down With Tears , Jehova, Quam Multi Sunt Hostes Mei , Oh Dive Custos , Beati Omnes Qui Timent Dominum , Out Of The Deep , Blow Up The Trumpet In Sion

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7847c | 1 CD $15.98 add item to cart Boys Choirs CDs

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Displaying 1-50 of 112 items.

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'Tis woman makes us loveHenry PurcellHilliard EnsembleThe Singing Club 1 CDMORE DETAILS 
Beati Omnes Qui Timent Dominum Henry PurcellOxford New College ChoirSacred Music of Henry Purcell 1 CDMORE DETAILS 
Blow Up The Trumpet In Sion Henry PurcellOxford New College ChoirSacred Music of Henry Purcell 1 CDMORE DETAILS 
Blow Up The Trumpet In Sion Henry PurcellOxford New College ChoirSacred Music of Henry Purcell 1 CDMORE DETAILS 
CanzonaHenry PurcellChoir of Clare CollegePurcell Choral Works 1 CDMORE DETAILS 
Celebrate This Happy, Holy DayDelores HrubyHenry PurcellShenandoah Valley Children's ChoirIt's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year 1 CDMORE DETAILS 
Christ Is Made the Sure FoundationJohn RutterHenry PurcellCambridge SingersSing, Ye Heavens 1 CDMORE DETAILS 
Come Ye Sons of ArtHenry PurcellMilwaukee Children's ChoirWinter's Night 1 CDMORE DETAILS 
Come Ye Sons of ArtHenry PurcellMilwaukee Children's ChoirWinter's Night 1 CDMORE DETAILS 
Come Ye Sons of ArtHenry PurcellWestern New York Children's ChorusSing Praise 1 CDMORE DETAILS 
Dido's LamentJohn LewisHenry PurcellSwingle Singers with The Modern Jazz QuartetPlace Vendome 1 CDMORE DETAILS 
Dido's lament, and final chorus (Dido and Aeneas)Henry PurcellJohn Rutter (Editor)Opera ChorusesSongbookMORE DETAILS 
Evening HymnHenry PurcellPhilip Ledger (editor)Anthems For Choirs 2SongbookMORE DETAILS 
Funeral March Henry PurcellChoir of Clare CollegePurcell Choral Works 1 CDMORE DETAILS 
Hark! The Echoing AirHenry PurcellSteven Stolen and Richard WaltersEnglish Songs - Renaissance to Baroque (Low Voice)Songbook & CDMORE DETAILS 
Hark! The Echoing AirHenry PurcellSteven Stolen and Richard WaltersEnglish Songs - Renaissance to Baroque - High VoiceSongbook & CDMORE DETAILS 
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Hear My Prayer, O Lord Henry PurcellChanticleerSilver Jubilee AnthologySongbookMORE DETAILS 
Hear My Prayer, O LordHenry PurcellHenry PurcellPurcell AnthologySongbookMORE DETAILS 
Hear my prayer, O LordHenry PurcellChanticleerPurcell - Evening Prayer 1 CDMORE DETAILS 
Hear my prayer, O LordHenry PurcellCambridge SingersTreasures of English Church Music 2 CDsMORE DETAILS 
Hear My Prayer, O Lord - Songs of DistressHenry PurcellOasis ChoraleJourney - The Road Home 1 CDMORE DETAILS 
Here My Prayer Oh LordHenry PurcellChoir of Clare CollegePurcell Choral Works 1 CDMORE DETAILS 
I Attempt From Love's SicknessHenry PurcellRichard WaltersStandard Vocal Literature - SopranoSongbook & CDMORE DETAILS 
I Attempt from Love's SicknessHenry PurcellSteven Stolen and Richard WaltersEnglish Songs - Renaissance to Baroque (Low Voice)Songbook & CDMORE DETAILS 
I Attempt from Love's SicknessHenry PurcellSteven Stolen and Richard WaltersEnglish Songs - Renaissance to Baroque - High VoiceSongbook & CDMORE DETAILS 
I Attempt From Love's Sickness To Fly Henry PurcellVarious ComposersSoprano Classical Contest SolosSongbook & CDMORE DETAILS 
I Was GladHenry PurcellHenry PurcellPurcell AnthologySongbookMORE DETAILS 
I was gladHenry PurcellChanticleerPurcell - Evening Prayer 1 CDMORE DETAILS 
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I'll Sail Upon the Dog StarHenry PurcellSteven Stolen and Richard WaltersEnglish Songs - Renaissance to Baroque - High VoiceSongbook & CDMORE DETAILS 
If Music Be The Food Of Love Henry PurcellRichard WaltersStandard Vocal Literature - Mezzo-SopranoSongbook & CDMORE DETAILS 
If Music Be The Food Of LoveHenry PurcellRichard WaltersStandard Vocal Literature - SopranoSongbook & CDMORE DETAILS 
If Music Be the Food of LoveMarilyn EppHenry PurcellLawrence Children's ChoirHere's To Song 1 CDMORE DETAILS 
If Music Be the Food of LoveHenry PurcellSteven Stolen and Richard WaltersEnglish Songs - Renaissance to Baroque (Low Voice)Songbook & CDMORE DETAILS 
If Music Be the Food of LoveHenry PurcellSteven Stolen and Richard WaltersEnglish Songs - Renaissance to Baroque - High VoiceSongbook & CDMORE DETAILS 
If Music be the Food of LoveHenry PurcellGeorge Shirley and Wayne SandersAdvanced Tenor SolosSongbook & CDMORE DETAILS 
In the delightful, pleasant grovesHenry PurcellClough-LeighterThe A Cappella SingerSongbook (SATB)MORE DETAILS 
In The MIdst Of LifeHenry PurcellChoir of Clare CollegePurcell Choral Works 1 CDMORE DETAILS 
In These Delightful, Pleasant GrovesHenry PurcellTheron KirkSing We and Chant ItSongbookMORE DETAILS 
In These Delightful, Pleasant GrovesHenry PurcellRobert Walker (editor)The New Novello Part-Song BookSongbookMORE DETAILS 
Jehova, Quam Multi Sunt Hostes Mei Henry PurcellOxford New College ChoirSacred Music of Henry Purcell 1 CDMORE DETAILS 
Jehova, Quam Multi Sunt Hostes Mei!Henry PurcellHenry PurcellPurcell AnthologySongbookMORE DETAILS 
Jubilate DeoHenry PurcellChoir of Clare CollegePurcell Choral Works 1 CDMORE DETAILS 
Let Mine Eyes Run Down With Tears Henry PurcellOxford New College ChoirSacred Music of Henry Purcell 1 CDMORE DETAILS 
Lord, How Long Will Thou Be AngryHenry PurcellCambridge SingersFaire Is The Heaven 1 CDMORE DETAILS 
Lord, How Long Wilt Thou Be AngryHenry PurcellChoir of Clare CollegePurcell Choral Works 1 CDMORE DETAILS 
Lord, how long wilt thou be angryHenry PurcellCambridge SingersTreasures of English Church Music 2 CDsMORE DETAILS 
Lord, What Is Man, Lost Man Henry PurcellOxford New College ChoirSacred Music of Henry Purcell 1 CDMORE DETAILS 
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