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HENRY PURCELL (1659-1695)
I attempt from Love�s sickness to fly
From The Indian Queen
Musical ability has often run in families. Take for example the articles about Bach and his sons which annotate at least 6 generations of Bach professional musicians many forgotten but 40 members of this musical dynasty are still remembered to this very day. Then there was Beethoven the prince of musicians; both his father and grandfather were professional musicians�3generations, and then the incomparable Mozart whose father and sister followed by his 2 sons were all musicians�3 generations. In England a London family the PURCELLS held prominent positions in the music of the Court and that of Westminster Abbey, and took an active part in musical life for 150 years�4 generations. Today people often speak of �Purcell� without realising that although they mean Henry, there was in fact a first generation Henry; but it is the younger Henry who was the most gifted and famous of this musical family.
Like the �Fairy-Queen� composed in 1692, the �Indian Queen� is a masque or semi-opera; in these semi-operas (the term for which at the time was "dramatic operas"), the main characters of the plays do not sing but speak their lines: the action moves in dialogue rather than recitative, with music introduced only in isolated scenes and masques. Purcell started work on the �Indian Queen� in the year of his death 1695 based on Thomas D�Urfey�s work of the same name, and after his death in November 1695, his younger brother Daniel Purcell (d. 1717), who was also a prolific composer wrote the music for much of the final act of �The Indian Queen�.
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