The Keyboard in London

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We (Mike Lurie, Greg Dunbar, Lauren Buono, Shawn Riley & Bryn Coveney) are a group of students studying abroad in London for the semester from Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York. This blog is to document our class experiences in "The Keyboard and it's Role in London Society" course, which is being taught by Diane Birr at the Ithaca College London Center, in South Kensington. Our studies focus on keyboard instruments (the Virginal, Harpsichord, Pianoforte, Piano, Organ, Electronic keyboard) and explore how these instruments are historically interwoven with the personal and social fabric of London society.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Henry Purcell 1659-1695

Henry Purcell is thought to be one of the greatest composers during the Baroque period in England.  His use of elements from Italian and French music created a unique style of English Baroque music.  Purcell’s works changed throughout his lifetime due to a variety of influences, time period, and his evolving careers.  His works can be divided into five categories; Domestic Vocal Music, Instrumental Music, Church Music, Odes and Welcome Songs, and Theatre Music. Purcell’s musical talent allowed him accomplish success in each genre of music.

Key Facts:
• Born In Westminster, London
• Came from a musical family
• As a child he sang in the Chapel Royal and studied with
     Christopher Gibbons, Matthew Locke, an John Blow
• Took over for John Blow as Westminster Chapel organist
• Took over for Matthew Locke as composer for the violins
     at court
• Became one of the 3 organists at the Chapel Royal
• Became the King's Instrument Keeper
• Popular teacher in London
• Was influenced by Italian and French music
• Was admired as a song composer... he "had a peculiar
      genius to express the energy of English words,
      whereby he mov'd the passions of all his auditors"
   Henry Playford
• Wrote domestic vocal music, instrumental music, church
       music, odes and welcome songs, and music for theatre

For a complete list of Purcell's works click on the link below:

To view a picture of a Hayward Spinet, one which Purcell may have owned and played on, click here:

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