Purcell, Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day

Henry Purcell



Annual London celebrations in honour of the patron saint of music on her name day, 22 November, were instituted in 1683, and included the performance of an ode in praise of music. Purcell composed at least twice for the occasion, and his 1692 work, ‘Hail, bright Cecilia’, to words by Nicholas Brady extolling the virtues of instruments and voices, is one of his grandest and finest works. The composer’s characteristically rather rough working score arrived in the Library in 1801 with the musical bequest of Osborne Wight, a gift which laid the foundations of the Bodleian’s music manuscript collections.

Excerpt from Purcell's Ode for St. Cecilia's Day performed by Michael George (bass), Gillian Fisher (soprano), James Bowman (countertenor), John Mark Ainsley (tenor), New College Choir Oxford and The King's Consort Robert King (conductor). Reproduced by courtesy of Hyperion Records Ltd.


What makes this a treasure?

Purcell is an influential composer beyond England's borders, acting as testament that music remains as vital from the day of its inception through its modern renditions. His work is very much alive today and it's lovely to see the original work to better understand what he imagined when composing.

Posted by Elizabeth Grab

On 15/12/2011

Anything by Purcell is a treasure especially an autograph

Posted by Maureen Duffy

On 25/11/2011

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