Henry Purcell was an English musician and composer from the 17th century who is regarded as one of the finest English composers of all time. His works spanned a wide range of areas, including the church, the theatre, and the court, and he was a well-known musical personality of his day. He wanted to learn from artists all throughout Europe and integrated stylistic elements of Italian and French music into his works since he had an open mind. His creativity made him one of Europe’s most innovative composers, and he produced his own distinctive style of English Baroque music distinguished by intricate melodic embellishment. Purcell was born into a musical household and may have been destined for a career as a musician. His father was a court musician, and his uncle was also a vocalist. Early in his childhood, he was dealt a devastating blow when his father died unexpectedly, leaving the little kid in the care of his uncle. His uncle was a kind father who pushed him to pursue his passion for music. Captain Henry Cooke tutored him in music, and he became a chorister at the Chapel Royal. He, too, began composing at an early age and went on to become a well-known composer and songwriter. His distinguished career, however, was cut short when he died suddenly of an illness while he was only in his mid-thirties.
Childhood and Adolescence
Henry Purcell was born in St Ann’s Lane, Old Pye Street Westminster, on September 10, 1659. His father, Henry Purcell Senior, was a court musician and chorister, and his uncle, Thomas, was also a musician. Edward and Daniel were Henry’s two brothers.
Henry was left under the care of his uncle Thomas after his father died in 1664. His uncle, a musician himself, arranged for the youngster to be accepted as a chorister. Captain Henry Cooke was his first instructor, and he went on to study under Pelham Humfrey, Cooke’s successor. He completed his studies with Dr. John Blow after Humfrey’s death. Until 1673, Henry Purcell was a chorister in the Chapel Royal. Then his voice cracked, and he was hired as an assistant to John Hingston, an organ builder.
Career of Henry Purcell
He was hired to tune the organ at Westminster Abbey in 1674, and during the next few years he also duplicated organ parts for anthems. In 1677, he took over as composer for Charles II’s string orchestra from Matthew Locke.
In 1678, Henry Purcell wrote his first song, ‘Lord, who can tell,’ and the following year, he was named organist of Westminster Abbey, succeeding composer John Blow, who had previously been his instructor and mentor.
In 1679, he composed an anthem for the Chapel Royal and songs for John Playford’s ‘Choice Ayres, Songs and Dialogues.’
The basso profundo voice of the Rev. John Gostling, a gentleman of His Majesty’s Chapel, for whom he penned numerous anthems, particularly struck him. The exact dates of these religious works are unknown, although they are thought to have been written throughout several years. Henry Purcell had a very fruitful period in the 1680s. He was selected as one of the Chapel Royal’s three organists in 1682, and his first printed piece, ‘Twelve Sonatas,’ was published the following year.
He composed the anthems ‘I felt glad’ and ‘My heart is inditing’ for King James II’s coronation in 1685, and both became highly famous. Over the next few years, he penned numerous additional odes and spiritual works.
Between 1680 and 1688, he composed music for seven plays. ‘Dido and Aeneas,’ a chamber opera, is said to have been written at this time. He composed the music to a text by Nahum Tate, and the opera was staged in partnership with Josias Priest, the choreographer.
Henry Purcell was King William III of England’s favorite composer, and he was tasked with writing odes on Queen Mary’s birthday. In 1694, he created the music for ‘Come, Ye Sons of Art.’ It turned out to be his final ode for the queen, who died at the end of the year. He created an anthem and two elegies for the queen’s funeral after her death.
During the 1690s, he was at the pinnacle of his profession, having composed music for 42 plays in six years. Music and melodies for Thomas d’Urfey’s ‘The Comical History of Don Quixote,’ ‘Bonduca,’ ‘The Indian Queen,’ and ‘The Old Bachelor’ are among his later works.
Major Projects of Henry Purcell
‘Come Ye Sons of Art,’ for example, was one of his most brilliant pieces. Nahum Tate had penned a birthday poem for Queen Mary.
Personal History and Legacy
In 1680, Henry Purcell married Frances Peters. The couple had six children, four of whom died in childhood. Only Edward, his son, and Frances, his daughter, survived him. Later in life, his son also became a musician. In 1695, he was in his thirties and at the pinnacle of his profession when he fell sick. On November 21, 1695, he died. His cause of death is unknown, however it is thought that he died of a cold or TB. In a sad turn of events, the music he created for Queen Mary’s funeral a year ago was again performed at his death.
Estimated Net Worth
Henry is one of the wealthiest composers and one of the most well-known. Henry Purcell’s net worth is estimated to be $1.5 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.
The so-called “Purcell’s Trumpet Voluntary,” which is mistakenly credited to Henry Purcell, was written by a British composer named Jeremiah Clarke years after Purcell’s death.