Mark Humphreys

Daniel Purcell

Daniel Purcell

Daniel Purcell (c.1663-1717) was a musician, composer, socialite and punster. He was a child in the choir of the Chapel Royal, organist at Magdalen College, Oxford, and composer-in-residence at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane. His output was prolific, consisting of music for some fifty plays, as well as many anthems, cantatas, songs, odes, and instrumental sonatas.

Whilst in Oxford, Daniel Purcell was also a member of an Oxford Music Club, which also counted Richard Goodson, the organist of Christ Church, and James Brydges, Duke of Chandos and later famously patron to Handel, amongst its membership.

Of Daniel's works, it is probably the theatre music which is most of interest, ranging from single songs for sometimes ill-fated productions to whole 'Purcellian' Dramatick Operas such as The Island Princess (Motteux, 1699), and The Grove, or Love's Paradise (Oldmixon, 1700). His cantatas 'after the Italian Manner' (1713) were some of the first examples of their style in the English language, and, whilst he held no official appointment, his composition of odes for Princess (later Queen) Anne, and various other members of the Royal family, show his close connections with court life.

My research, in archives in Oxford, London, and elsewhere, has produced several major biographical discoveries which have shed much light on Daniel Purcell's life and, indeed, the life and works of other composers and musicians active at that time.

The major part of my work, though, has been to compile a comprehensive thematic catalogue of Daniel Purcell's works. This catalogue, now completed, includes multi-stave incipits for each movement of each piece which Daniel wrote, listing every printed and manuscript source in which the music is found. Appendices include manuscript descriptions, transcription of printed collection title pages, and several indices.

For more information about Daniel Purcell, or about the catalogue, please email me. I'd also be very happy to help or advise if you're looking to perform some music by Daniel Purcell, either by providing an edition, or pointing you in the right direction of the appropriate sources.