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JOHN BLOW  

(d 1708 )

John Blow was the most significant English composer in the generation before Henry Purcell, ten years his junior, whom he outlived by thirteen years. Born in 1649, the year of the execution of King Charles I, he was young enough to benefit from the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, with the revival of church music.

Dramatic Works

Blow’s masque Venus and Adonis, a charming masque designed for the king’s entertainment, influenced Purcell’s better-known short opera Dido and Aeneas, by the side of which it deserves a place.

Sacred and Secular Vocal Music

Like Purcell, Blow wrote music mourning the death of Queen Mary, a monarch for whom he had six years earlier written coronation music, when, with her Dutch husband William of Orange, she had succeeded her Catholic father, King James II. His works include a quantity of vocal music, sacred and secular, the former including a well-known setting of The Lord is my shepherd. Anthems include the distinguished I beheld, and lo! a great multitude, a verse anthem, with the customary instrumental accompaniment. For the coronation of King James II in 1685 he wrote the anthem God spake sometime in visions.

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