Our privacy policy was last updated on Friday 25 May 2018View it hereDismiss
Bachtrack logo
Flag of United Kingdom

Composer: Purcell, Henry (1659-1695)

August 2018
MonTueWedThuFriSatSun
30310102030405
06070809101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
27282930310102
03040506070809
Evening performance
Matinee performance
Upcoming eventsSee more...

LondonVivaldi Four Seasons by candlelight

Vivaldi Four Seasons by candlelight
Vivaldi, Bach, Purcell, Corelli
London Musical Arts Ensemble; John Landor; Joshua Fisher

LondonDido and Aeneas

Purcell: Dido and Aeneas
Richard Egarr; Christine Rice; Rowan Pierce; Neal Davies; Academy of Ancient Music

SingaporeBaroque Festival: Music for Kings and Queens

Baroque Festival: Music for Kings and Queens
Purcell, Handel
Singapore Symphony Orchestra; Sofi Jeannin; Stefan Kießling; Singapore Symphony Chorus

SingaporeBaroque Festival: Royal Fireworks

Baroque Festival: Royal Fireworks
Handel, Purcell
Singapore Symphony Orchestra; Sofi Jeannin; Stefanie Quintin

LondonTriple 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
Latest reviewsSee more...

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
Read more

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
Read more

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
Read more

Manze and Fox’s brilliant Britten

Andrew Manze © Benjamin Ealovega
The Scottish Chamber Orchestra also have a winner in a radiant Vaughan Williams Symphony no. 5.
*****
Read more

Emmanuelle Haïm brings early music to the LA Phil

Emmanuelle Haïm © Simon Fowler
Familiarity doesn't always breed contempt: Bach's famous Air proves the highlight of an enjoyable evening of Purcell, Bach and Pergolesi in the magnificent surroundings of Disney Hall.
***11
Read more
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