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Born: 1659, Westminster, England
Died: 1695, Westminster, England

HENRY PURCELL is, arguably, England’s most famous composer. The son of a court musician, organist of Westminster Abbey at a mere 20 years of age, and the recipient of royal appointments by three different kings, he is considered one of the most original and prodigious composers of his – or any – time.

Although he incorporated French and Italian elements into his writing, his compositions would come to define the English Baroque style. Purcell’s relatively short life produced a broad repertoire, including sacred music, theater music and opera, fantasies and sonatas for keyboard, and vocal and chamber music – much of which endures in popularity and recognition to this day.

Further Listening:

Chacony for Strings (c. 1678)Academy of Ancient MusicChristopher Hogwood (Philips)

Dido and Aeneas (1689)Taverner Players and Choir; soloistsAndrew Parrott (Avie)