Henry Purcell


“An Evening Hymn”

Today is Henry Purcell‘s birthday (1659-1695).

Frye in his 1950 diary records listening to some Purcell on the radio and suddenly encountering something he did not expect to hear:

Stayed around indoors all day, listening to the radio, hearing some good music — a program from Halifax of recorded music featuring Purcell, Boyce & Arne.  At six I heard a most curious noise over the radio purporting to come from some Professor named Frye who was talking about books.  It’s the first time I’ve heard my voice, except for a few remarks in that Infeld programme.  I would never have recognized it as my own voice: that nasal honking grating buzz-saw of a Middle-Western corncrake.  I need a few years in England.  The reading wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be, but Clyde Gilmour on movies was a hell of a lot better. (CW 8, 293)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

2 thoughts on “Henry Purcell

  1. Bob Denham

    In Notebook 5 Frye quotes from Henry Purcell’s Preface to Diocletian on the sisterhood of music and poetry: “Musick & Poetry have ever been acknowledged sisters, and walking hand in hand, support each other. As poetry is the harmony of words, so musick is that of notes; and as poetry is a rise above prose and oratory so is musick the exaltation of poetry. Both may excel apart, but are most excellent when joined, for they appear like wit and beauty in the same person. Poetry and painting have arrived to perfection in our own country; musick is still in its nonage, a forward child which gives hope of what it may be in England when the masters of it shall find more encouragement. Being further from the sun, we are of later growth than our neighbour countries, and must be content to shake off our barbarity by degrees.”

  2. Nicholas William Graham

    This is a great reference and very helpful in appreciating Frye’s constant circling round and creative transposition of Aristotle’s POETICS with its six elements of poetry:
    mythos, ethos, dianoia, melos, lexis and opsis. Again, thanks.



Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *