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17th Century Music in England

The century starts with music by composers such as the lute player John Dowland, still written in the style of the late 16thc. Much of his music for voice and lute is sad and reflective; his best known song being "Flow my Tears": 'Lachrimae' played by a consort of viols of various sizes, with lute:

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Henry Purcell, composer, and organist dominated music in England in the second half of the 17thc. Although he incorporated Italian and French stylistic elements, Purcell's style is uniquely English. He is probably best know for his opera 'Dido and Aeneas' - composed for a girl's school in London in 1689. Purcell also composed music for staged dramas including 'King Arthur'; and 'The Fairy Queen' - an adaption of Shakespeare's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'. Much of his music was composed for the royal court of King William and Queen Mary. When Mary died of smallpox in 1695, Purcell composed the music for her funeral. Later the same year Purcell died, age only 39, and the music he had composed for Queen Mary was played at his own funeral. The Departure of Aeneas, by Francesco De Mura, 18thc.

"To the Hills and the Vales..." from Dido and Aeneas: As Queen Dido lies dying she sings: "When I am laid in earth...Remember me": The entire 55 minute opera: Improvisations on Purcell's song "Here The Deities Approve": 'March' from the Funeral Music for Queen Mary: 'The Great Frost' The winter of 1683-4 was exceptionally cold all over N Europe. Tradesmen of all types set up booths on the frozen River Thames in London to sell their wares, and there were also stalls selling food and drink. Entertainment included sleds, skating, horse and coach races, and puppet plays. An enterprising printer set up his printing press on the ice and sold souvenir cards written with the customer's name, the date, and the fact that the card was printed on the Thames. Frost Fair on the frozen River Thames, 1684.

Next Week – 18th Century Music in Italy

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