Henry Purcell

(2933 words)
  • Roger Savage (University of Edinburgh)

Purcell was born into a musical family (probably in Westminster) eight months before the restoration of the Stuart monarchy. He was a chorister at Charles II’s court --one of the “children of the Chapel Royal”--until his voice broke in 1673; and by the time he was 23 he was an organist both of that chapel and at Westminster Abbey (which was close to the court’s most frequent location, Whitehall Palace). He became a noted all-round musician: keyboard player, instrument keeper and tuner, copyist and editor, teacher and consultant; but it was as a composer--taught most likely by John Blow, Christopher Gibbons and the francophile Pelham Humfrey--that he made his greatest mark. In 1677 he gained the title of Composer in Ordinary for t…

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Savage, Roger. "Henry Purcell". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 11 August 2003
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/speople.php?rec=true&UID=3663, accessed 01 October 2016.]