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Tributes to immortal women named Mary

In the baroque age, Indios in Latin America knew how to make their religion fun - with music, as we'll hear- along with pieces that Henry Purcell wrote in honor of Queen Mary II of England.

Listen to audio 54:59

Concert Hour: Herne 02

The program begins with the merry sounds of Ars Longa of Havana, Cuba, followed by music for the harp - four harps in fact. 

The centerpiece of this hour of music, however, are searingly mournful strains from the pen of Henry Purcell. A quote from English music scholar Thomas Tudway gives a sense of the effect this music had at the first performance at the last rites for Queen Mary II of England at Westminster Abby on March 5, 1695:

"I ask all present," wrote Tudway. "Those who understand something about music and those who do not, whether they ever heard anything as captivatingly beautiful and solemn, moving everyone to tears." Over 300 years later, Purcell's "Funeral Sentences for Queen Mary" have lost none of their spine-tingling emotional power.

Considered kind and tolerant, the queen was open to the arts and well-read. Having ascended to the throne six years earlier and died of smallpox at age 32, she was sincerely mourned.  

Only nine months later, an anthem from the composition, "Thou knowest Lord," sounded out at Purcell's own funeral in Westminster Abbey. 

We'll also hear the festive ode that Henry Purcell wrote for Queen Mary's 32nd and last birthday, only months before her death. 

This very British music has a French touch because it comes from a time when music had a political dimension, as conductor Hervé Niquet explained to DW: "We know that an English musician was paid by Louis XIV of France to observe what was going on musically in Great Britain, and that the King of England paid a French musician to report back on the kind of music made at the court of Louis XIV. So it seems that music was an important tool of politics. That's why I see the music of Purcell as very French, but with the blood of Purcell."

Henry Purcell (picture-alliance/Bildarchiv)

Henry Purcell

Pastoreta Ychepe Flauta

performed by: 
Ars Longa, Havana
Teresa Paz, conductor 

Recorded by West German Radio, Cologne (WDR) in the Church of the Cross, Herne on November 12, 2016


George Frideric Handel 
Chaconne for four harps

Giovanni Caramiello
Variations on Gluck's Aria Che Farò Senz' Euridice, op. 18  

performed by: 
Sébastien Érard Harp Ensemble
Mara Galassi, conductor

Recorded by West German Radio, Cologne (WDR) in the "Unser Fritz" Coal Mine, Herne on November 12, 2016

Henry Purcell

  • Funeral Sentences for Queen Mary (1695)
  • Come, ye Sons of Art: Birthday Ode for Queen Mary (1694)

Le concert spirituel 
Hervé Niquet, conductor

Recorded by West German Radio, Cologne (WDR) in the Arts Center, Herne on November 12, 2016 


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