Henry Purcell (c. 1659-1695) was as appointed composer-in-ordinary to the king in 1677 and organist of Westminster Abbey in 1679 and of the Chapel Royal in 1682, all very prestigious positions. However, Purcell turned his attention to theater music when the need for royal music diminished due to the monarchs’ changing tastes. He had a longstanding collaboration with the librettist John Dryden, with Purcell setting Dryden’s texts to music. He may have died as young as 35, and thus his career was tragically cut short. However, because of the quality of his output, he is revered as one of the greatest English composers.
His notable works include the opera Dido and Aeneas, the semi-operas The Fairy Queen and King Arthur, and his suite of incidental music from the play Abdelazer, which was quoted in Benjamin Britten’s A Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra. Listen to Chatham Baroque performing some of Purcell’s sonatas here:
Price, Curtis. 2002 “Purcell, Henry.” Grove Music Online. 13 Sep. 2018.