Purcell: Henry. Sheet Music and Biography

By | September 10, 2020

Purcell Sheet Music

Painting of Henry Purcell in his thirties of his head and shoulders
Henry Purcell
c.10 Sept 1659-21 Nov 1695

Henry Purcell (born c.10th September 1659) is considered to be the best English composer of his time. Not until the twentieth century did an English composer display his talent.

His best-known works include Trumpet Tune, Lilliburlero and Air in D minor all of which feature on the site with arrangements for various instruments.

Purcell’s father was a gentleman of the Chapel Royal and sang at the coronation of King Charles II. As a result of his father’s position, Henry became a chorister until his voice broke at the age of fourteen.

Career

In 1673 Purcell took on the role of assistant to the Keeper of the King’s Instruments. He quickly progressed through various positions including composer of King Charles II’s string orchestra. Then in 1679, he took the position of organist of Westminster Abbey. Three years later in 1682 he also gained the position as one of the three organists at the Chapel Royal. This role ran simultaneously with that of Westminster Abbey. Purcell retained all his official posts through the reigns of Charles II, James II, William III, and Mary II.

Purcell is said to have started composing at the early age of nine. However, there is no evidence to support this. However, he wrote an Ode for King Charles II birthday in 1670, aged eleven.

He wrote a wide variety of music including that for the stage, court, private entertainment, and church.

Purcell married and had six children, as with many children of this time three of them died in infancy.

Death & His Music

Sadly Purcell was hit with a terrible illness leading to an early death at the age of just thirty-six (21st November 1695). His brother Daniel Purcell became popular in completing his unfinished works.

His music influenced some of the English composers of the twentieth century. In particular, Benjamin Britten arranged many vocal works for voice and piano into his Britten’s Purcell Realizations.

Today the Henry Purcell Society of Boston perform live concerts of his work (during the COVID pandemic they switched to live streaming). I wonder what Henry Purcell would think of his music being listened to in forms not even imagined in his day?

Purcell Sheet Music and Further Reading

At music-scores.com we have over fifty arrangements for you of Henry Purcell’s compositions. For further information take a look at Wikipedia and Britannica.