Henry Purcell

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Henry Purcell (pronounced /ˈpɜrsəl/;[1] 10 September 1659 (?)[2] – 21 November 1695), was an English organist and Baroque composer of secular and sacred music. Although Purcell incorporated Italian and French stylistic elements into his compositions, his legacy was a uniquely English form of Baroque music.



Early life and career

Purcell was born in St Ann's Lane, Old Pye Street, Westminster. Henry Purcell Senior[3], whose older brother Thomas Purcell (d. 1682) was also a musician, was a gentleman of the Chapel Royal and sang at the coronation of King Charles II of England.[4] Henry the elder had three sons: Edward, Henry and Daniel. Daniel Purcell (d. 1717), the youngest of the brothers, was also a prolific composer who wrote the music for much of the final act of The Indian Queen after Henry Purcell's death. Henry Purcell's family lived just a few hundred yards west of Westminster Abbey from the year 1659 and onward.[5]

After his father's death in 1664, Purcell was placed under the guardianship of his uncle who showed him great affection and kindness.[6] Thomas was himself a gentleman of His Majesty's chapel, and arranged for Henry to be admitted as a chorister. Henry studied first under Captain Henry Cooke (d. 1672),[7] Master of the Children, and afterwards under Pelham Humfrey (d. 1674), Cooke's successor.[8] Henry was a chorister in the Chapel Royal until his voice broke in 1673, when he became assistant to the organ-builder John Hingston, who held the post of keeper of wind instruments to the King.[5]

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