Henry Purcell

Henry Purcell

Henry Purcell [ˈhɛnɹɪˈpɜːsl̩] (* approx. 1659 in Westminster, † 21. November 1695 in London) was an English composer.

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Purcell, the” Orpheus britannicus “, was son of a member of the singer chapel of Karl II. established around 1660. (Chapel Royal). It received its training as a choir boy the same chapel by their chief Henry Cooke († 1672) and its to successor Pelham Humfrey (1647 - 1674).After Humfreys death it continued its training with John Blow . 1676 he took over the Organistenamt to the Westminster Abbey. In the same year it wrote music to John Drydens play Aureng Zebe and to Thomas Shadwells Epsom Wells and The Libertine. Further followedSchauspielmusiken, among them a Overture and a Masque to Shadwells treatment of Shakespeares Timon OF of Athens.

1682 Purcell as organist of the Chapel Royal were employed, a position which it at the same time with its Organistenamt to the Westminster Abbey held. Its first works in the pressure appeared,the” Twelve Sonatas “, was published 1683. In the years it created mainly clergyman music and deserts to festive causes of the king house. it wrote 1685 on the occasion of the coronation/culmination of Jakob II. two its most well-known Anthems,” I which glad “and” My heart is inditing “. 1687 setit its connection to the Londoner theatres away and wrote music to Drydens tragedy Tyrannick Love.

For the year 1689 the performance of its first opera Dido and Aeneas is occupied, which later still 38 dramatic music works followed, both by their materials(partly after William Shakespeare, partly of John Dryden) as by the originality and the high art value of the music well-founded attention excited. Less its church compositions of the contemporaries, in particular also estimated from trade, were not.

it wrote songs to 1690 to Drydens versionfrom Shakespeares The Tempest, among them “fill fathom five” and “Come unto thesis yellow sand,” and music to Bettertons treatment of Fletcher and Massingers Prophetess (better Dioclesian admits later) under the title and to Drydens Amphitryon; 1691 developed for King Arthur, likewise aftera libretto of Dryden. 1692 it composed music to The Fairy Queen (a treatment of Shakespeares summer eight-dream).

To Purcells belong to masterpieces its width unit Deum and Jubilate, which developed for the Cäcilientag of the yearly 1694 - it concerns the first English here Width unit Deum with orchestra company. Purcell survived this composition not for a long time. It composed a Anthem for the funeral services of the queen Maria II. of England 1694.

It died 1695 on the zenith of its work straight once center thirty. Its widow Frances Purcell died 1706, it published someits works in the pressure, under it the famous collection Orpheus Britannicus (two books, 1698 and 1702). Appreciative by contemporaries with this title already, Purcell applied particularly by its vowel works long time as a largest English composer. Remarkably at these works is above all the einfühlsame usethe English language.

Purcell had probably a son, Edward (1689-1740), who likewise composed. Yet finally, with security acts it is not classified the Verwandtschaftsverhältnisse to the further musicians of the family Purcell however with the composer Daniel Purcell (approx. 1664-1717) around its brother, thatlast well-known musicians of this family, Edward Henry Purcell (? - 1765) were probably its grandchild.

Henry Purcell was buried in the Westminster Abbey beside the organ, on its gravestone stands: ” Here of lyes Henry Purcell Esq., who left this would run and is gone tons that blessed place whereonly his harmony CAN exceeded “.

1836 were created in London a Purcell club, which had made the performance of its works it's duty, but 1863 were dissolved. 1876 were created the Purcell Society, to the publication of its works in the pressure and one dedicated itselfTotal expenditure initiated.

Purcell belongs to the composers of the baroque, which had large influence on modern British composers such as Benjamin Britten , Michael Tippett , Peter Maxwell Davies or Michael Nyman. Even modern rock musicians appoint yourself to it: Pete Townshend of the group of The WhoPurcell ranks among its most important influences, what for example in the initial clocks of “pin ball Wizard” becomes clear.



Semi operas:

  • 1690: The Prophetess, or the History OF Dioclesian
  • 1691: King Arthur, or theBritish Worthy
  • 1692: The Fairy Queen
  • 1695: The Tempest (probably not or only partly of Purcell)
  • 1695: Timon OF of Athens
  • 1695: The Indian Queen (Masque to the conclusion of Daniel Purcell)

beside it numerous pieces the vowel - and instrument valley music howCembalo and pieces of organ, choir works as well as 42 Duette and over 100 songs. A complete list of the works Purcells offers the room one listing.

Total expenditure of its works: The Works OF Henry Purcell (London 1878 -, rev. 1961- ). (Purcell Society edition).


  • originally Purcell in the Meyers encyclopedia of 1888, 4. Aufl., volume 13, page 470. (several times revised)


  • Michael burdens (Hrsg.): The Purcell Companion. London 1995.
  • Peter Holman: Henry Purcell. Oxford 1994.
  • Curtis Price: Henry Purcell and the London steam turbine and gas turbine systems. Cambridge 1984.
  • Curtis Price(Hrsg.):Purcell Studies. Cambridge 1995.
  • Franklin B. Zimmerman: Henry Purcell 1659-1695. His would run and of Time. London 1967, ² 1983.


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