Henry Purcell


Music for a while

Shall all your cares beguile.

Wond'ring how your pains were eas'd

And disdaining to be pleas'd

Till Alecto free the dead

From their eternal bands,

Till the snakes drop from her head,

And the whip from out her hands.

Music for a while

Shall all your cares beguile.



About the piece:

"Music for a While" is a da capo aria for voice (usually soprano or tenor), harpsichord and bass viol by the English Baroque composer Henry Purcell. Based on a repeating ground bass pattern, it is the second of four movements from his incidental music (Z 583) to Oedipus, a version of Sophocles' play by John Dryden and Nathaniel Lee, published in 1679. It was composed for a revival of the work in 1692.[1] The aria was published posthumously in Orpheus Britannicus, book 2, 1702. The text is part of a longer musical interlude in act 3, scene 1 of Oedipus.


Henry Purcell (c. 10 September 1659 – 21 November 1695)
Was an English composer. Although it incorporated Italian and French elements, Purcell's style of Baroque music was uniquely English. Generally considered among the greatest English opera composers.
Interesting facts about Purcell:
- Purcell’s interest in music began when he was a young child. It’s said that he began composing at the age of 9. His earliest work was an ode for King Charles’ birthday in 1670. (And for those of you who have written birthday songs for your dogs, you’ll know how hard they are to please).
- He landed the impressive job as organist for Westminster Abbey at the age of 20. His final resting place is next to that organ.
- The cause of Purcell’s untimely death at the age of 36 is unclear. One theory is that he caught a chill after returning home late from the theatre to find that his wife had locked him out. Another is that he died from chocolate poisoning. Both are pretty unusual.
- His music heavily influenced the work of Benjamin Britten, whose famous piece The Young Persons Guide to the Orchestra is based on a theme from Purcell’s Abdelazar.
- Pete Townshend of The Who claimed that Purcell’s harmonies influenced many of their most popular songs, including Won’t Get Fooled Again (1971), and I Can See For Miles’ (1967). The 1969 classic Pinball Wizard also features a very Purcellian intro.