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HENRY PURCELL  

(1659 - 1695)

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. He 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. He was 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.

Stage Works

Purcell wrote only one full opera, a short work supposedly designed for a girls’ school. The tragic story of Dido and Aeneas, with a libretto by Nahum Tate, has a perfection of its own. Dido’s final lament, before she kills herself, follows the model for such compositions established by Monteverdi 80 years before. Other stage works by Purcell are in the hybrid form now known as semi-opera, combining spoken drama with a musical element that in the concert hall may be performed apart from its wider dramatic context. These semi-operas include King Arthur, with a text by the poet John Dryden, a work that includes fascinating music for a chorus of cold people, frozen by the Cold Genius but thawed by the power of Love. The Fairy Queen, based on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, includes an interesting if apparently inappropriate Chinese masque, while The Tempest, again based on Shakespeare, includes songs and dance music of great interest.
Purcell provided incidental music, dances and songs for a great many plays, including Aphra Behn’s Abdelazar or The Moor’s Revenge, a rondeau from which provides the theme for Benjamin Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra.

Church Music

Purcell 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, including the Magnificat, Nunc dimittis, Te Deumand Jubilate. The anthems offer considerable musical interest, exemplified in the verse anthems Rejoice in the Lord alway and My heart is inditing. Other sacred vocal music includes the Latin psalm setting Jehovah, quam multi sunt hostes as well as settings of sacred poems by contemporary writers.

Secular Vocal Music

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 theatre. These solo songs and the songs for two or more voices offer a particularly rich repertoire, exemplified by ‘Music for a while’, from the play Oedipus, and ‘Man is for a woman made’, from The Mock Marriage. Other vocal works include a number of catches (rounds for popular entertainment).

Instrumental Music

Instrumental music by Purcell, in addition to the theatre music, includes sets of fantasias for viols and two sets of trio sonatas.

Keyboard Music

Although Purcell was employed for over half his life as an organist of the Chapel Royal and at Westminster Abbey, he wrote relatively little for the instrument. His harpsichord music includes a number of suites, some of which include transcriptions of his own theatre music.

Box Set Release Catalogue Number
Artist Profile Series - José Serebrier Naxos 8.505086
Festliche Barocktrompete Naxos 8.503041

View by Role: Classical Composer | Lyricist
Role: Classical Composer 
Album Title
Catalogue No  Work Category 
20 YEARS OF CLASSICAL MUSIC: Naxos Anniversary Collection (Naxos Denmark) Naxos
8.570598
Opera
21ST CENTURY CINEMA CLASSICS Naxos
8.556698
Opera
A TO Z OF OPERA Naxos Educational
8.555037-38
Opera
ABIDE WITH ME AND OTHER FAVOURITE HYMNS Naxos
8.557578
Choral - Sacred
ARTISTRY OF HANS FAGIUS (THE) BIS
BIS-CD-140-41
Instrumental
BACH, J.S. / PURCELL / HANDEL: Stokowski Transcriptions Naxos
8.557883
Orchestral
BAROQUE AND ROMANTIC VOCAL MUSIC BIS
BIS-CD-127
Vocal, Opera, Vocal
Baroque Music - PURCELL, H. / TORELLI, G. / PERGOLESI, G.B. / VIVALDI, A. / BACH, J.S. (Encore) (Les Violons du Roy, Labadie) Dorian Sono Luminus
DOR-90012
Chamber Music
BAROQUE OPERAS (4 DVD Box set) (NTSC) EuroArts
2057938
Opera DVD
BAROQUE TRUMPET (THE ART OF THE), Vol. 1 Naxos
8.553531
Chamber Music
BAROQUE TRUMPET CONCERTOS Amadis
7109
Orchestral
BAROQUE! - A Collection of Baroque Gems from the Delos Catalog Delos
DE1500
Chamber Music
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE II (THE)- Opera, Ballet and Theatre Highlights (Blu-ray, HD) Opus Arte
OABD7077D
Opera DVD
BRIDE'S GUIDE TO WEDDING MUSIC (A) Naxos
8.503134
Chamber Music
BRIDE'S GUIDE TO WEDDING MUSIC (A) Naxos
8.557246-47
Chamber Music
BRIDE'S GUIDE TO WEDDING MUSIC FOR CIVIL CEREMONIES (A) Naxos
8.570227-28
Opera
BRUDENS GUIDE TIL BRYLLUPS MUSIK (A Bride's Guide to Wedding Music) Naxos
8.557562
Chamber Music
CAPRICER MED OD, Vol. 1 (1964-1969) BIS
BIS-NL-CD-5010
Choral - Secular
Cello Duet Arrangements (A Tale of Two Cellos) (Julian and Jiaxin Lloyd Webber, Lenehan) Naxos
8.573251
Chamber Music
CELTIC DIALOGUE (Risk, Schwab) Dorian Sono Luminus
DOR-90264
Chamber Music
Chamber and Orchestral Music (Baroque) – LULLY, J.B. / PURCELL, H. / PHILIDOR, A.D. / JENKINS, J. / HANDEL, G.F. (A Baroque Celebration) (Pederson) Dorian Sono Luminus
DOR-90189
Orchestral, Chamber Music
Chamber Music - MORLEY, T. / D'URFEY, T. / HOLMES, M. / PURCELL, H. / AKEROYDE, S. (The Best of the Baltimore Consort) (Baltimore Consort) Dorian Sono Luminus
DOR-90023
Chamber Music
CHAMBER MUSIC (14th Century) (A Distant Mirror) (Folger Consort) Delos
DE1003
Chamber Music, Opera
Chamber Music (17th Century) - PLAYFORD, J. / LOCKE, M. / CORBETTA, F. / PURCELL, H. (La Beata Olanda: John Come Kiss Me Now) (Bleich, Stempfel) Carpe Diem
CD-16273
Instrumental
Chamber Music (Baroque) - JENKINS, J. / SIMPSON, J. / LOCKE, M. (An English Fancy) (Trio Settecento) Cedille
CDR90000-135
Chamber Music
Chamber Music (Old English) - MUDGE, R. / HANDEL, G.F. / CLARKE, J. / CORBETT, W. / SNOW, V. / FINGER, G. / PURCELL, H. (Friedrich) Capriccio
C67013
Chamber Music
Choral Concert: Collegium Vocale zu Franziskanern Luzern - BRITTEN, B. / VAUGHAN WILLIAMS, R. / ELGAR, E. / KODALY, Z. (Sacred and Profane) Solo Musica
SM185
Choral - Sacred
Choral Concert: The King's Singers - SCHUTZ, H. / POULENC, F. / LASSO, O. (Pater Noster: A Choral Reflection on the Lord's Prayer) Naxos
8.572987
Choral - Sacred
CHORAL WEDDING (A) - A Selection of Favourite Choral Anthems and Hymns for Church Weddings Naxos
8.578196-97
Choral - Sacred
CHRISTMAS WITH JOSE CARRERAS (1990) (NTSC) Arthaus Musik
101407
Classical Concert
CINEMA CLASSICS 2006 Naxos
8.556833
Instrumental, Opera
CLASSIC MOODS - BACH, J.S. / VIVALDI, A. / BUFFARDIN, P.-G. / DOWLAND, J. / ALBINONI, T.G. / HANDEL, G.F. / PURCELL, H. / PESCETTI, G.B. Capriccio
C18409
Opera
CLASSICAL CHILLOUT - The Essential Collection Naxos
8.570223-24
Orchestral
CLASSICS AT THE MOVIES - SUSPENSE Naxos
8.556810
Wind Ensemble/Band Music
CORTOT, Alfred: Recordings (1929-1937) Naxos Historical
8.111381
Instrumental
CROOKS, Richards: Opera Arias / Songs (1925-1945) Delos
DE5501
Vocal
DE LYSE NAETTER - Stemningsfuld musik pa 3 CD'er (The Light Nights - Evocative Music on 3 CDs) Naxos
8.503148DK
Chamber Music
Discover Music of the Baroque Era Naxos Educational
8.558160-61
Opera, Choral - Sacred
DISCOVER OPERA Naxos Educational
8.558196-97
Opera
DIVINE DANCERS (NTSC) EuroArts
2054708
Ballet DVD
DVORAK, A.: Serenade / VAUGHAN WILLIAMS, R.: Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis / PURCELL, H.: Dido's Lament (Royal Philharmonic, Stokowski) Newton Classics
NC8802025
Orchestral
Early English Organ Music, Vol. 1 Naxos
8.550718
Instrumental
ELGAR, E.: "Enigma" Variations / PURCELL, H.: Suite for Strings from the Dramatic Music (arr. A. Coates) (London Symphony, Sargent) (1953) Naxos Classical Archives
9.80785
Orchestral
ENGLISH STRING MINIATURES, Vol. 6 Naxos
8.557753
Orchestral
ENKELIN AANIN (Angel's Voices) Naxos
8.503147
Chamber Music
EVENING WITH THE ROYAL OPERA (AN) (NTSC) Opus Arte
OA1086D
Opera DVD
Grand Tour (Trio Settecento) (4-CD Box Set) Cedille
CDRBOX1002
Chamber Music
Guitar Quartets - BACH, J.S. / HANDEL, G.F. / PURCELL, H. / FINK, M. / TELEMANN, G.P. (For Thy Pleasure) (Los Angeles Guitar Quartet) Delos
DE3205
Instrumental
HEAR MY PRAYER - Hymns and Anthems Naxos
8.557493
Choral - Sacred
I Love You Truly Naxos International
8.990019
Orchestral
IN MEMORIAM - MUSIC FOR SOLEMN OCCASIONS Naxos
8.553435
Wind Ensemble/Band Music
ITALIAN AND ENGLISH MUSIC FOR RECORDER AND LUTE BIS
BIS-CD-266
Instrumental
LEPAGE-DEAN, Oliver: Evening Hymn (An) - Music for Solo Treble Naxos
8.557129
Vocal
LOEKI STARDUST COLLECTION (Loeki Stardust Quartet) Newton Classics
NC8802044
Chamber Music
MORLEY, T.: Joyne Hands / AKEROYDE, S.: Jenny, My Blithest Maid / NICHOLSON, R.: The Jewes Dance (Tunes from the Attic) (Baltimore Consort) Dorian Sono Luminus
DOR-90235
Vocal
MUSIC FOR TRUMPET AND ORGAN Amadis
7104
Chamber Music
MUSIC FOR TRUMPET AND ORGAN Naxos
8.571103
Chamber Music
NASTRUCCI, U.: Almirante (York, Vierlinger, Capella Leopoldina, Zwicker) Phoenix Edition
Phoenix121
Vocal
NIGHT AT THE OPERA (A) - Favourite opera arias, duets and ensembles Naxos
8.557309
Opera
Opera Highlights (arr. for brass and percussion) - WAGNER, R. / VERDI, G. / MOZART, W.A. / BIZET, G. / PURCELL, H. (Solid Brass) Dorian Sono Luminus
DOR-90108
Chamber Music
OPERA HIGHLIGHTS, Vol. 2 (NTSC) Arthaus Musik
102049
Opera DVD
Orchestral Music - BACH, J.S. / MOZART, W.A. / BRITTEN, B. / VILLA-LOBOS, H. / HONEGGER, A. / ZEISL, E. / MOSZKOWSKI, M. (The Art of Fugue) (Kovacic) CD Accord
CDAccordACD168
Chamber Music
Orchestral Music - BOYCE, W. / PURCELL, H. / MOZART, L. / BEETHOVEN, L. van / HUMMEL, J.N. / ADAM, A. (Sir Neville Marriner Jubilee Edition) Capriccio
C49266-5
Orchestral
Orchestral Music - HANDEL, G.F. / VIVALDI, A. / SWEELINCK, J.P. / PURCELL, H. / MARAIS, M. (House of Dreams) (Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, Lamon) Tafelmusik
TMK1020DVDCD
Orchestral
ORGAN (Eternal) Naxos
8.572181
Instrumental
Organ Music - FROBERGER, J. / POGLIETTI, A. / SCHERER, S. / KERLL, J. (Historic Organ Series, Vol. 5) (Marcon) Divox
CDX-79805
Instrumental
Organ Music - PRAETORIUS, H. / HOFHAIMER, P. / HASSLER, H.L. / GABRIELI, A. / BULL, J. / SCHEIDT, S. / KOTTER, H. / SCHEIDEMANN, H. / BUXTEHUDE, D. Capriccio
C49444
Instrumental
Organ Recital: Guillou, Jean Victor Arthur - BACH, J.S. / HANDEL, F. / HAYDN, G.F. / PURCELL, H. / SCHUMANN, R. / LISZT, F. (Organ Encores) Dorian Sono Luminus
DOR-90112
Instrumental
Organ Recital: Koopman, Ton - BULL, J. / TOMKINS, T. / GIBBONS, O. / PURCELL, H. / BLOW, J. / BYRD, W. / BOYCE, W. (The Organ at Adlington Hall) Capriccio
C10255
Instrumental
Organ Recital: Koopman, Ton – PURCELL, H. / TOMKINS, T. / BLOW, J. / CARLTON, N. / BULL, J. / HANDEL, G.F. / WALOND, W. / BURNEY, C. Capriccio
C10254
Instrumental
PEPUSCH: English Cantatas BIS
BIS-CD-965
Chamber Music
PERFECT WINTER WEDDING Naxos
8.557977
Chamber Music
PRESIDENT'S OWN UNITED STATES MARINE BAND: Emblems Altissimo
75442260892
Wind Ensemble/Band Music
PURCELL (THE BEST OF) Naxos
8.556839
Chamber Music, Choral - Sacred, Chamber Music, Vocal, Instrumental, Orchestral, Opera, Orchestral
PURCELL / BOHM / GRIGNY / BLOW / BACH, J.S.: Organ Works Oehms Classics
OC553
Instrumental
PURCELL, H. / DOWLAND, J.: Vocal Music (Orpheus in England) (Kirkby, Lindberg) BIS
BIS-CD-1725
Vocal, Instrumental, Vocal, Instrumental, Vocal
PURCELL, H.: Ayres for the Theatre - Prophetess (The) / King Arthur / The Fairy Queen / The Indian Queen (Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, Lamon) Tafelmusik
TMK1010CD
Orchestral
PURCELL, H.: Dido and Aeneas (Royal Opera House, 2009) (Blu-ray, HD) Opus Arte
OABD7049D
Opera DVD
PURCELL, H.: Dido and Aeneas (Royal Opera House, 2009) (NTSC) Opus Arte
OA1018D
Opera DVD
PURCELL, H.: Dido and Aeneas (Staatsoper unter den Linden, 2005) (NTSC) Arthaus Musik
101311
Opera DVD
PURCELL, H.: Distress'd Innocence / The Virtuous Wife / Sonata a 3 - Nos. 1, 3, 6, 8 / Sonata a 4 No. 6 (Chatham Baroque) Dorian Sono Luminus
DOR-90309
Chamber Music
PURCELL, H.: Fairy Queen (Lewis) (1955) Naxos Classical Archives
9.81044-45
Opera
PURCELL, H.: Fairy Queen (The) (ENO, 1995) (PAL) Arthaus Musik
100200
Opera DVD
PURCELL, H.: King Arthur, "The British Worthy" (Lewis) (1958) Naxos Classical Archives
9.81079-80
Opera
PURCELL, H.: Ode for St. Cecilia's Day / Te Deum Naxos
8.553444
Choral - Sacred, Choral - Secular, Choral - Sacred, Orchestral
PURCELL, H.: Opera Suites (Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Marriner) Capriccio
C10567
Orchestral
PURCELL: Dido and Aeneas Naxos
8.553108
Opera
PURCELL: Dido and Aeneas (Flagstad, Schwarzkopf, Hemsley) (1952) Naxos Historical
8.111264
Opera
PURCELL: Fairy Queen (The) Naxos
8.550660-61
Opera
PURCELL: Fantazias Naxos
8.553957
Chamber Music
PURCELL: Fantazias / Pavan / Chacony / In nomine BIS
BIS-CD-1165
Chamber Music
PURCELL: Full Anthems / Music on the Death of Queen Mary Naxos
8.553129
Choral - Sacred, Instrumental, Choral - Sacred, Instrumental, Choral - Sacred
PURCELL: Indian Queen (The) Naxos
8.553752
Opera
PURCELL: KING ARTHUR (PAL) EuroArts
2054509
Opera DVD
PURCELL: Suites and Transcriptions for Harpsichord Naxos
8.553982
Instrumental, Opera, Instrumental
PURCELL: Tempest (The) Naxos
8.554262
Chamber Music, Vocal, Orchestral, Opera
PURCELL: Theatre Music, Vol. 1 - Amphitryon / Sir Barnaby Whigg / The Gordian Knot Unty'd / Circe Naxos
8.570149
Orchestral
PURCELL: Victorious Love BIS
BIS-SACD-1536
Vocal, Opera, Vocal, Opera, Vocal, Opera
REQUIEM - Classical Music for Reflection and Meditation Naxos
8.556703
Instrumental
SEGOVIA, Andres: 1944 American Recordings (The) (Segovia, Vol. 1) Naxos Historical
8.111087
Instrumental
SODERSTROM, Elisabeth / MEYER, Kerstin - Duets for Two Sopranos BIS
BIS-CD-17
Opera, Vocal
STORY OF BRITISH CLASSICAL MUSIC (THE) Naxos Educational
8.558193-94
Opera
SVEN GORAN ERIKSSONS - Klassiska Favoriter Naxos
8.503135
Orchestral
TEYTE, Maggie: Vocal Portrait (A) (1932-1948) Naxos Historical
8.110757-58
Opera
The Best of Naxos 8 Naxos
8.551201
Opera
Trio Sonata in 17th Century England BIS
BIS-CD-1455
Chamber Music
UNGER-HAMILTON, C.: Discover Music of the Baroque Era (Unabridged) Naxos AudioBooks
NA495912
Opera, Choral - Sacred
Vocal and Chamber Music - PURCELL, H. / ALDRICH, H. / D'URFEY, T. / JONES, R. (The Art of the Bawdy Song) (Baltimore Consort, The Merry Companions) Dorian Sono Luminus
DOR-90155
Vocal Ensemble
Vocal and Chamber Music - ROSSI, S. / PURCELL, H. / CAMPRA, A. (Canti di Salomone a 3 parti) (Ensemble Hypothesis) Tactus
TC571804
Vocal, Chamber Music, Vocal
Vocal Recital: Baird, Julianne - PURCELL, H. / ARNE, T.A. / BLOW, J. (English Mad Songs and Ayres) (Baird) Dorian Sono Luminus
DOR-90105
Opera, Vocal, Instrumental, Vocal
Vocal Recital: Barna-Sabadus, Valer - PURCELL, H. / MATTEIS, N. / DOWLAND, J. (To touch, to kiss, to die) Oehms Classics
OC870
Vocal, Opera, Vocal, Opera, Vocal, Instrumental
Vocal Recital: Ferrier, Kathleen - BACH, J.S. / HANDEL, G.F. / GLUCK, C.W. / MENDELSSOHN, Felix / SCHUBERT, F. (Arias and Songs) (1946-1950) Naxos Historical
8.112071
Opera
Vocal Recital: Stade, Frederica - SCHUMANN, R. / CHAUSSON, E. / SCHUBERT, F. / SCARLATTI, A. / MOZART, W.A. (Duets, Arias, Scenes and Songs) Newton Classics
NC8802125
Vocal
Vocal Recital: Vyvyan, Jennifer - PURCELL, H. / MORLEY, T. / ARNE, T.A. / HORN, C.E. / GRAINGER, P. (Songs of England) (1954) Naxos Classical Archives
9.81175
Opera
WEDDING MUSIC Naxos
8.550790DX
Chamber Music
WEDDING MUSIC Naxos
8.550790
Chamber Music
World of Early Music Naxos
8.554770-71
Chamber Music, Choral - Sacred, Opera
Role: Lyricist 
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