Pelham Humfrey

(1647 -1674)

English composer. Sang under Henry Cooke in the Chapel Royal, where some of his anthems were performed (1660-64); he then traveled to France and Italy, where he probably had contact with Lully and Carissimi. He was named court lutenist and Gentleman of the Chapel Royal while on his journey. He arrived back in England during October 1667; according to Pepys, certain of his anthems were sung immediately upon his return. He was elected Assistant for the Corporation of Music in 1670, became a Warden in 1672 and was made composer for the royal band of violins, soon afterwards succeeding Cooke as Master of the Children of the Chapel Royal, where Purcell was among his pupils. He soon took ill and died at the age of 27. Though not a prolific composer, Humfrey played a central role in consolidating an English Baroque style. His nineteen surviving verse anthems, seventeen of which integrate instrumental ritornelli, combine modern influences from Lully's music (especially in their string writing) and from Italian music (in their vocal writing), and are distinctive for their powerful expressive language. French influence is also obvious in one of his two masques for The Tempest (1674), while the other shows Italianate features. His other works include a service, three court odes and nearly thirtysongs (most to secular texts).

Biography: Pelham Humfrey by Peter Dennison (OUP)

A Partial Pelham Humfrey Discography | VIIA: Purcell and His Contemporaries