Musical detective and case of the ode

February 23, 2007

Fans of Henry Purcell, one of the greatest British composers, may be shocked to learn that much of one of his best-loved works was written by someone else.

Detective work by Rebecca Herissone, a musicology lecturer at Manchester University, has uncovered evidence that the version of the ode Come Ye Sons of Art that we know today is quite different from the original.

Purcell wrote the piece for the birthday of Queen Mary in 1694. The only surviving complete source of the ode was copied by an obscure musician called Robert Pindar in 1765, some 71 years after the work's premiere.

The discovery of a fragment of the original by Leeds University musicology professor Peter Holman prompted Dr Herissone to closely examine three other Purcell odes copied by Pindar to compare the two composers' styles.

She said: "I've identified how Pindar makes changes to Purcell's music and have used this to reconstruct Purcell's original version."

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