Purcell (1659 - 1695)

Henry Purcell (1659-1695) might not be the most well known English composer around the world, but he is definitely still highly regarded and respected in England. Other British composers like Britten, Elgar and Vaughan Williams are much well known nowadays, and their pieces more popular, but a lot of times they are the answers to the question "Who is the greatest British composer since Purcell." I guess it would be a bit silly to say he is as great a composer as Bach, but his music is still among the best of his period.

Purcell wrote much music for the Kings and Queens of England. Among them are funeral music and odes and anthems. But for this list I chose his opera "Dido and Aeneas", which is one of his masterpieces. The story of Dido and Aeneas is based on Virgil's "Aeneid" - which I guess Ibsen who never read - a classic love story with a sad ending. But the music is beautiful and quintessentially Baroque.

On the other hand, he also wrote another opera, called "King Arthur, or The British Worthy", with lyric from John Dryden (who was England's first Poet Laureate). It is slightly longer than my self-imposed limit for an album here, but I hope someday Ibsen would get into the Arthurian legend, and enjoy this as well.

Album 02: Henry Purcell - Dido and Aeneas (Catherine Bott + Emma Kirkby et al. + Chorus and Orchestra of the Academy of Ancient Music + Christopher Hogwood)