Sunday, July 17, 2011

Henry Purcell - Trumpet Voluntary

We had a brass quartet to do the music at our wedding.  They played this:

It was spectacular.

It's by far Purcell's most famous composition, and we were by no means the only ones who had it at their weddings.  Purcell was enormously influential in his day (the late 17th century).  While his career was short (he died at only 36), he blazed brightly.  His talent was seen as so extraordinary that his music teacher resigned his post as organist at Westminster Abbey so that Purcell could take over.

Unsurprisingly, his mortal remains are interred there in the Abbey.  You'll find him next to the organ.

His influence extends to our day.  He inspired The Who, and you can hear an echo of Purcell in the opening bars of Pinball Wizard.

The Victorian poet Gerard Manley Hopkins penned a sonnet titled, simply, "Henry Purcell".  It opens with a headnote which can only be seen as a thank you note, down through the ages:
The poet wishes well to the divine genius of Purcell and praises him that, whereas other musicians have given utterance to the moods of man’s mind, he has, beyond that, uttered in notes the very make and species of man as created both in him and in all men generally.

Have, fair fallen, O fair, fair have fallen, so dear
To me, so arch-especial a spirit as heaves in Henry Purcell,
An age is now since passed, since parted; with the reversal
Of the outward sentence low lays him, listed to a heresy, here.

Not mood in him nor meaning, proud fire or sacred fear,
Or love or pity or all that sweet notes not his might nursle:
It is the forgèd feature finds me; it is the rehearsal
Of own, of abrupt self there so thrusts on, so throngs the ear.

Let him Oh! with his air of angels then lift me, lay me! only I’ll
Have an eye to the sakes of him, quaint moonmarks, to his pelted plumage under
Wings: so some great stormfowl, whenever he has walked his while

The thunder-purple seabeach plumèd purple-of-thunder,
If a wuthering of his palmy snow-pinions scatter a colossal smile
Off him, but meaning motion fans fresh our wits with wonder.
May your Sunday morning be equally spectacular.

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