Exhibition Themes > Music > 223. Henry Purcell
223. Henry Purcell (1659-1695). Orpheus Britannicus. A collection of all the choicest songs...The Second Book, which renders the First Compleat. London: William Pearson for Henry Playford, 1702. Gabe M. Wiener Music & Arts Library
Henry Purcell was one of the greatest English composers, flourishing in the period that followed the Restoration of the monarchy after the Puritan Commonwealth period. Purcell spent much of his short life in the service of the Chapel Royal as a composer, organist and singer. With considerable gifts as a composer, he wrote extensively for the stage, particularly in a hybrid musico-dramatic form of the time, for the church and for popular entertainment, a master of English word-setting and of contemporary compositional techniques for instruments and voices. He died in 1695, a year after composing funeral music for Queen Mary.
Purcell wrote only one full opera, Dido and Aeneas, with a libretto by Nahum Tate. He provided a number of verse anthems and full anthems for the liturgy of the Church of England, as well as settings of the Morning and Evening Service, the Magnificat and Nunc dimittis, Te Deum and Jubilate. Purcell's secular vocal music includes a number of Odes for the feast of St. Cecilia, patron saint of music and a number of Welcome Songs and other celebrations of royal occasions. He wrote a considerable quantity of solo songs, in addition to the songs included in his work for the theater.
Gift of Mrs. Elaine Schenker, 1960