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Composer: Purcell, Henry (1659-1695)

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ManchesterThe Hallé - A London Symphony

© Benjamin Ealovega
Purcell, Dvořák, Vaughan Williams
The Hallé; Andrew Manze; Jian Wang

DurhamTriple bill: Dido & Aeneas (Purcell) / Jonas (Carissimi) / I Will Not Speak (Gesualdo)

Triple bill: Dido & Aeneas (Purcell) / Jonas (Carissimi) / I Will Not Speak (Gesualdo)
Purcell, Carissimi, Gesualdo
English Touring Opera Orchestra; Jonathan Peter Kenny; English Touring Opera; Seb Harcombe; Bernadette Iglich; Sky Ingram

Saffron WaldenTriple bill: Dido & Aeneas (Purcell) / Jonas (Carissimi) / I Will Not Speak (Gesualdo)

Triple bill: Dido & Aeneas (Purcell) / Jonas (Carissimi) / I Will Not Speak (Gesualdo)
Purcell, Carissimi, Gesualdo
English Touring Opera Orchestra; Jonathan Peter Kenny; English Touring Opera; Seb Harcombe; Bernadette Iglich; Sky Ingram

LondonVivaldi Four Seasons by Candlelight

Vivaldi, Pachelbel, Mozart, Purcell
Brandenburg Sinfonia

LondonGabrieli Consort & Players - The Fairy Queen

Purcell: The Fairy Queen
Paul McCreesh; Gabrieli Consort & Players; Carolyn Sampson; Anna Dennis; Mhairi Lawson
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A great Dido and Aeneas pairing in Adelaide

Kate Louise Macfarlane (Belinda), Bethany Hill (Dido) and Raphael Wong (Aeneas) © Bernard Hull Photography
A richly sung Dido and Aeneas in an imaginative venue becomes an enjoyable and rewarding experience.
****1
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Stark and grief-stricken: Dido and Aeneas at the Barbican

Caitlin Hulcup and Rowan Pierce © Mark Allan | Barbican
A semi-staged Dido from the Academy of Ancient Music and the speculative funeral music for a queen.
****1
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Modern Queens: Anna Prohaska at the Proms

Anna Prohaska, Giovanni Antonini and Il giardino armonico © BBC | Chris Christodoulou
Anna Prohaska reigns supreme in programme of Cleopatra and Dido-inspired Baroque arias in her late night Prom.
****1
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O/MODƏRNT at Wigmore Hall: A descent into melodrama

Hugo Ticciati © Marco Borggreve
Conceptually, the programme of descending and rising fourths offered a real treat: in practice, the musicians' skill was in danger of being lost as they attempted to recover from their opening gimmickry.
***11
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From Naxos to Carthage: Ancient Classical Tales from Karen Cargill and the Scottish Ensemble

Karen Cargill © Ken Dundas
Mezzo soprano Karen Cargill and the Scottish Ensemble guest-led by Matthew Truscott in a programme of music from Purcell to Stravinsky all inspired by tales from Ancient Greece.
****1
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Biography

The nonpareil of English music

Henry Purcell enjoyed a meteoric career and a reputation that outshone that of all his contemporaries. He was brought up in the tradition of English contrapuntal choral music, becoming organist of Westminster Abbey at just twenty-two years old, but his main career was as a court composer at a time when French and Italian baroque styles were flooding into London. Uniquely, Purcell married the three traditions. He combined an impeccable ear for baroque harmony and instrumentation with a natural ability for counterpoint and a rare talent for setting words to music.

Together with his one-time teacher John Blow and the Italian immigrant Giovanni Battista Draghi, he created English baroque opera, with his Dido and Aeneas remaining the most popular of the genre. The shifting religious and court politics of his day resulted in his writing in a wide variety of styles, including everything from court odes to viol suites and keyboard music. His vocal music ranged from large scale hymns and anthems to intimate and popular songs which people would sing in the street. He could write sacred music of elegance and beauty, but was also a master of "catches", humurous part-songs with bawdy or seditious words.

To read more about Purcell's life and music, click on this biography of Purcell by the BBC's Terry Barfoot.

Key works
If you're unfamilar with Purcell's music, you have some treats in store. Listen to Dido's Lament from Dido and Aeneas, an extraordinary musical picture of the depths of despair, the Anthems and Services with their huge variety of vocal colour, or the wonderfully intricate instrumental fantasies (the Fantasy upon one note is particularly fine). To get you started, click here for a selection

List of works
Abdelazer, Z 570: suiteCelestial Music did the Gods Inspire, Ode for Mr Maidwell's School, Z 322Chaconne in G Minor, Z 730Chacony in G minor, Z807Come ye sons of Art: Sound the trumpetDido and AeneasDido and Aeneas 1700Dido and Aeneas, Z 626: Dido's Lament "When I am laid in earth"Dido and Aeneas, Z 626: SuiteDioclesian: SuiteFantasies: variousFantasy upon One Note for 5 viols in F major, Z 745God save our sov'reign Charles, Z250Hail, Bright Cecilia, Z.328Hear my prayer, O Lord, Z 15How blest are shepherdsIf music be the food of love, Z 379In Nomine for 6 viols in G minor, Z 746In Nomine for 7 viols "Dorian" in G minor, Z 747 KIng Arthur, Z 628: The Cold Genius SongKing ArthurKing Arthur, Z 628: fairest isle all isles excellingKing Arthur, Z 628: selectionsKing Arthur, Z 628: suiteLost is my QuietNo, resistance is but vain Z601Oedipus: Music for a While, Z 583 no.2Orpheus Britannicus, collection of songsRemember not, O Lord, our offences, Z 50Sonata in A minor, Z804Sweeter than roses, Z 585Swifter, Isis, swifter flow (Welcome Song for King Charles II), Z336The Fairy QueenThe Fairy Queen Z 629: excerptsThe Fairy Queen, Z 629: If love's a sweet passionThe Fairy Queen, Z 629: suiteThe Indian QueenThe Indian Queen, Z 630: They tell us that you mighty pow'rs aboveThe Lord is my light, Z55The summer's absence unconcerned we bear (Welcome Song for King Charles II), Z337Theodosius, or The Force of Love Z606: Prepare, the rites beginVoluntary in D minor for Double Organ Z 719Welcome to all the Pleasures, Ode for St Cecilia's Day (1683), Z 339