3 Purcell Songs from the Gresham Autograph
The Gresham Autograph is a notebook of songs that Henry Purcell compiled during his lifetime for an unknown singer, probably a student. Most of the songs are taken directly (some arranged) from his dramatic works and odes, yet a handful of them were written by contemporaries like his brother Daniel.
The autograph is named after the school where it was once housed, Gresham College, London. Today it resides at the Guildhall Library.
No modern publication exists of the entire autograph, but since most of the songs are available elsewhere there might not be a need. For a long time I’ve thought differently, however, and last year began to make my own edition, piece by piece, after discovering that a few of the songs had interesting variants and ornaments that were not found anywhere else.
Three songs by Purcell from the autograph can be downloaded below for free (they originally came from his opera The Fairy Queen).
I would have never known about Purcell’s notebook had it not been for a 1999 recording on the ASV label – Songs and Music from the Gresham Autograph – with the New Chamber Opera Ensemble (directed by Gary Cooper).
Their performance is stunning.