Henry Purcell (1659 – 1695)

Henry Purcell (1659 – 1695) was an English composer who was heavily influenced by Italian and French styles of composition, but his style remained distinctly English. He has been considered the greatest English composer prior to Edward Elgar. Some have claimed that he was composing as young as nine years of age, but, unlike Mozart, none of those childhood compositions remain extant. He wrote songs, and Psalm settings; operas, Dido and Aeneas, The Faerie-Queen, and several musical settings of Shakespearean plays, including the Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Tempest; several less formal operas, called “semi – operas,” or “dramatic operas;” music for the theater; and sacred works for Westminster Abbey.  At the same time that he served Westminster Abbey, he served as organist for the Chapel Royal. He is well-known for “Trumpet Voluntary,” which has often been played at weddings and anthem and eulogies for Queen II’s funeral; and for the choral piece, “Sound the Trumpet.” He met an untimely death at about 35 years of age. He was buried beside the organ in Westminster Abbey, and the music that he wrote for Queen Mary’s funeral was performed at his own. He was quite prolific given his early death.

See,  Abdelazer Suite: II. Rondeau,  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15rj-xFh2yg.  Benjamin Britten used the same theme for the variations in his Young People’s Guide to the Orchestra, as performed by the London Symphony and directed by Michael Tilson Thomas, which may be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kR9nDnyIhAU.

Jubilate Deo in D major (which has many similarities to Sound the Trumpet, below

Hear my prayer

Christ is made the sure foundation

Sound the Trumpet uses an interesting repeating ground base over which to counter tenor’s (men who have trained their voices to sing soprano and alto) imitate to lively trumpet parts. Will note that during the Baroque Period the voices treated as an instrument that is with rich, florid passages played by an instrument, including delicate ornamentation’s. You will also note to the characteristic Baroque rhythmic drive.

I first became familiar with this piece when I was directing church choirs. The following is similar to that arrangement, but sung by young children:

Let mine eyes run down with tears (Jeremiah 14:17-22)



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