The C90: Sound the Trumpets!

A belated birthday playlist for Henry Purcell.

Last Saturday, the 10 September, marked Henry Purcell’s birthday (roughly). In the circumstances, following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, we decided not to publish it on the day.

The greatest of English composers had strong royal connections. Born in Westminster* in 1659, his father sang in the Chapel Royal and Henry was to become organist at Westminster Abbey where he composed coronations anthems for King James II. His music for Queen Mary II is amongst his most renowned. It includes several Birthday Odes (one being Come Ye Sons of Art on this playlist) and his devastating music for her funeral – this was later used at his own funeral following his tragically early death in 1695 just a year later.

*Westminster is one of the ‘twin cities’ that makes up central London, located a little over a mile west on the River Thames from the City of London.

'An ode on the death of Mr Henry Purcell' by John Blow and John Dryden
"We beg not Hell our Orpheus to restore: Had he been there, Their sovereign's fear Had sent him back before."
'An ode on the death of Mr Henry Purcell' by John Blow and John Dryden

The first part of the playlist (Side A, if you will) is a tasting menu of some of the treats that you’ll hear as part of our The Rime of the Ancient Mariner event on 5 October at the Southbank Centre. You can hear some tracks from our own recordings of Dido and Aeneas and Come Ye Sons of Art. That’s  followed by Purcell at his glorious best in The Fairy Queen, Hear My Prayer, O Lord, Hail! Bright Cecilia, the Chacony in G Minor and King Arthur – the latter two featuring close friends of the OAE, Gustav Leonhardt and William Christie.

We bring the curtain up on Side B/the second part with a few tracks from the fantastic Barokksolistene. You can catch them at the Southbank Centre on 23 September – get your tickets for that (though only after you’ve booked for The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, of course!). There’s a bit of Abdelazer from our colleagues at the Academy of Ancient Music. You might recognise the Rondeau as the theme that Benjamin Britten uses in The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra. We wrap up with another sequence from Dido and Aeneas and Come Ye Sons of Art… because frankly you can’t celebrate Henry Purcell without When I am laid in earth and Sound the Trumpet.

The C90 is our blog feature paying homage to the lost art of the 90-minute mixtape.