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John Blow

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Biography

John Blow (1649–1708) was an English composer and organist. His pupils included William Croft and Henry Purcell.

Blow was probably born at North Collingham in Nottinghamshire. He became a chorister of the Chapel Royal, and distinguished himself by his proficiency in music. He composed several anthems at an unusually early age, including “Lord, Thou host been our refuge”, “Lord, rebuke me not”, and the so-called “club anthem”, “I will always give thanks” , the last in collaboration with Pelham Humfrey and William Turner, either in honour of a victory over the Dutch in 1665, or more probably simply to commemorate the friendly intercourse of the three choristers.

To this time also belongs the composition of a two-part setting of Robert Herrick’s “Goe, perjur’d man”, written at the request of Charles II to imitate Giacomo Carissimi’s “Dite, o cieli”. In 1669 Blow became organist of Westminster Abbey. In 1673 he was made a gentleman of the Chapel Royal and in the September of this year he married Elizabeth Braddock, who died in childbirth ten years later.

Blow, who by 1678 was a doctor of music, was named in 1685 one of the private musicians of James II. Between 1680 and 1687 he wrote his only stage composition of which any record survives, the “Masque for the entertainment of the King, Venus and Adonis”. In this Mary Davies played the part of Venus, and her daughter by Charles II, Lady Mary Tudor, appeared as Cupid.

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