Henry Purcell: Notes and Commentary

“Though he is acknowledged to be the most ‘English’ of all English composers, and though he is certainly one of the greatest, Henry Purcell was not altogether free of foreign influences. He himself confessed that in his sonatas he ‘faithfully endeavored a just imitation of the most famed Italian masters.’ By way of Italy, too, come many of Purcell’s instrumental fantasias and vocal recitatives. In his anthems, Purcell betrays the impact upon him of the French motet.”—David Ewen, The Complete Book of Classical Music

Henry Purcell was an English composer. Although incorporating Italian and French stylistic elements into his compositions, Purcell’s legacy was a uniquely English form of Baroque music. He is generally considered to be one of the greatest English composers; no other native-born English composer approached his fame until Edward Elgar. He lived from September 10, 1659, to November 21, 1695.

Purcell is said to have had a strong influence on the composers of the English musical renaissance of the early 20th century, most notably Benjamin Britten, who created and performed a realisation of Dido and Aeneas and whose The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra is based on a theme from Purcell’s Abdelazar.—Excerpted from Wikipedia

In popular culture, Pete Townshend of The Who has said Purcell’s harmonies were a big influence on the band’s music, particularly in “Pinball Wizard.”

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