Celebrating Henry Purcell

This is a good year for musical anniversaries – Haydn, Mendelssohn and Handel among others – and one which will certainly prove a good excuse for some wonderful music-making is that of Henry Purcell (1659-95).

The Fitzwilliam String Quartet, whose range includes all kinds of music from the early baroque to the absolutely contemporary, have often played Purcell’s wonderful Fantazias for Viols, written when he was just 19 and showing a brilliant and quirky genius which is equally adept at old-fashioned English and new-fangled Italian styles.

To mark his anniversary they are commissioning short new pieces which taking off from Purcell in whatever way the composers wish. I’m delighted to have been commissioned to write one of these, which will be premiered by the Fitzwilliam Quartet in a concert at Fitzwilliam College on Sunday April 26 at 8.00. At the moment I have a title – Fantazia – and about one and half minutes of music. I should finish it off quite soon now.

Earlier this year the Fitzes played my String Quartet in Cambridge, following their premiere in the US last year. They will perform it again in the Cambridge Music Festival on November 24 2009.