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Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 47.djvu/45

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Purcell
Purcell
39

Purcell, deceased.’ After his death there appeared his ‘Six Cantatas for a Voice, … two of which are accompanied with a Violin. Compos'd after the Italian manner’; and ‘the Psalmes set full for the Organ or Harpsicord, as they are Plaid in Churches.’

Daniel Purcell's music is so deeply tinged with the style of his illustrious brother that it would be exceedingly difficult to distinguish it from his on internal evidence alone. It is naturally a mere reflection, without creative genius; but it certainly does not deserve the sneer with which Hawkins refers to it. The historian repeats the tradition that Purcell was a famous punster.

[Grove's Dict. of Music. iii, 52; Bloxam's Reg. of Magdalen College; Bursar's Accounts of the College, examined by the Rev. W. D. Macray; Cummings's Life of (Henry) Purcell (Great Musicians Ser.); Companion to the Playhouse; Catalogue of the Music in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; Brit. Mus. Cat.; compositions printed and in manuscript in British Museum, Royal College of Music, &c.]

J. A. F. M.

PURCELL, HENRY (1658?–1695), composer, was a younger son of Henry Purcell, a gentleman of the Chapel Royal, and ‘master of the children’ of Westminster Abbey, and music copyist there. The father was an intimate friend of Matthew Locke [q. v.] (cf. Pepys, Diary, ed. Wheatley, i. 64); he was buried at Westminster Abbey on 3 Aug. 1664. The name of the composer's mother was Elizabeth. His brother Daniel [q. v.] is noticed separately. A house in St. Ann's Lane, Old Pye Street, Westminster, is traditionally said to have been the composer's birthplace (cf. Musical Times, November 1895, pp. 734–5). The date of his birth is fixed approximately by the inscription below his portrait in his ‘Sonatas of Three Parts’ (1683)—‘ætat. suæ 24’—and by that on his monumental tablet in Westminster Abbey, which gives his age as thirty-seven at the time of his death. The arms on the portrait (barry wavy of six argent and gules, on a bend sable three boars' heads couped of the first) seem to connect the composer with the family of Purcell of Onslow, Shropshire (cf. Collectanea Top. et Gen. vii. 244, viii. 17, 20). The composer's uncle, Thomas Purcell, adopted him on his father's death in 1664, and seems to have undertaken his musical education. Thomas Purcell was a gentleman of the Chapel Royal (appointed probably at the Restoration), succeeded Henry Lawes as one of the king's musicians in ordinary for the lute and voice in 1662, held the post of composer in ordinary for the violin conjointly with Pelham Humfrey [q. v.], and died in 1682.

In 1664, when Henry was six years old, he was appointed a chorister of the Chapel Royal, under Captain Cooke, the master of the children. Pelham Humfrey succeeded to Cooke's post in 1672, and from him Purcell learnt the taste for the new style of music which Lully had brought into vogue in France. In his twelfth year (1670) he composed an ‘Address of the Children of the Chapel Royal to the King,’ which, according to Cummings's ‘Life,’ was formerly in the possession of Dr. Rimbault. As it is described as being in Pelham Humfrey's writing, it would appear that Humfrey had already conceived a certain admiration for the promise shown by Purcell before they entered into the relations of master and pupil. Those who ascribe to Purcell the composition of the famous ‘Macbeth music,’ commonly known as Matthew Locke's, are compelled to assign its composition to Purcell's fourteenth year, since it was produced in 1672. The main argument in Purcell's favour is that the music for ‘Macbeth,’ with which Locke's name has been traditionally associated, is wholly different from some other extant music for ‘Macbeth’ which Locke is positively known to have composed, and may therefore be safely denied to be from Locke's hand. When Locke's claim is ignored, Purcell's title seems plausible. That a score of the music in Purcell's handwriting exists is in itself, having regard to the frequency with which one man would make a copy of another's work, no conclusive argument for his authorship (Musical Times, May 1876; Concordia, 27 Nov. 1875; Cummings, Life of Purcell; Grove, Dict. ii. 183–5) [cf. arts. Locke, Matthew, and Leveridge, Richard]. It is possible that a song, ‘Sweet Tyranness,’ in Playford's ‘Musical Companion’ (1672–3) is by the younger Henry Purcell; it has been ascribed to his father.

Purcell's first undoubted work for the stage was written for Shadwell's ‘Libertine’ (1676); the music is considerable in extent, and very fine in quality. Dryden's ‘Aurengzebe’ and Shadwell's ‘Epsom Wells,’ played in the same year, were also provided with music by Purcell. Rimbault assigns to Purcell the music in the first act of ‘Circe,’ by Charles Davenant [q. v.], which was acted at the Duke of York's Theatre in 1677, with music mainly contributed by John Banister [q. v.] (Concordia, 15 April 1876; cf. Rimbault, Ancient Vocal Music of England). The most important of Purcell's early dramatic productions is the masque in Shadwell's arrangement of ‘Timon of Athens’ (1677–8),