Personalities | John Blow | Early & Middle Baroque | Opera
John Blow, an influential figure in English music, was a gentleman of the Chapel Royal, organist there and later, in 1700, its official composer. Among his students was the brilliant Henry Purcell. Blow’s own compositions were considerable. Besides his church music, which included over 100 anthems, he provided music for entertainments at the royal court. These were typically Baroque in their emphasis on emotion and included some 90 songs, together with duets, 70 pieces for harpsichord and his only work for the stage, Venus and Adonis (c. 1682). This short opera, which Blow described as a ‘masque for the entertainment of the king’, was written for King Charles II, who had appointed him court composer. Venus and Adonis, in which Charles’s mistress and her daughter took part, showed distinct French influences in the dances. Blow’s opera foreshadowed Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, composed two years later. Blow’s ‘Ode on the Death of Mr Henry Purcell (1696)’, a duet with instrumental accompaniment, eloquently expressed his sadness at the untimely demise of his young friend and sometime student.
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