Henry Purcell: The English Musical Tradition

By A. K. Holland | Go to book overview

EPILOGUE

'UNLUCKILY for Purcell,' exclaims Dr. Burney, 'he built his fame with such perishable materials that his works are daily diminishing . . . and so much is our great musician's celebrity already consigned to tradition that it will be as difficult to find his songs or at least to hear them, as those of his predecessors, Orpheus and Amphion.' But Purcell's fame, as soon as it ceased to be a contemporary memory and became part of the established musical belief which is so fatal in the long run to the reputation of any English composer, was built not so much on perishable as on partial materials, consisting of a slender proportion of his entire work and what is much more serious, of printed versions which did every kind of violence to his intentions.

Fatality has surrounded the publication of Purcell's music from the time of his own unsuccessful ventures down to the formation of the Purcell Society, over fifty years ago, when it was still possible to say that the majority of his works existed only in manuscript, and even if that reproach has now been to a large extent removed, it is very little to English credit that the Purcell

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Henry Purcell: The English Musical Tradition
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Part One - The Times 1
  • Chapter I - Antecedents 3
  • Chapter II - The Restoration Scene 33
  • Chapter III - Purcell and His Age 62
  • Part Two - The Music 105
  • Chapter I - Elements of Style 107
  • Chapter II - Poetic Materials 149
  • Chapter III - Music and Spectacle 192
  • Epilogue 236
  • Short Bibliography 242
  • Index 243
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