The Full Anthems and Services of John Blow and the Question of an English Stile Antico

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John Blow (1649-1708) was among the first group of boys pressed into the service of King Charles II, following the decade of Puritan rule. Blow would make compositional efforts as early as 1664 and, at the age of nineteen, began to assume professional positions within the London musical establishment, ultimately becoming, along with his pupil and colleague, Henry Purcell, London's foremost musician. Restoration sacred music is generally thought of in connection with the stile nuovo which, for the first time, came to be a fully accepted practice among English musicians for the church. But the English sacred polyphonic art, little ... continued below

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xix, 557 leaves: ill., music

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King, Deborah Simpkin August 1990.

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  • King, Deborah Simpkin

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John Blow (1649-1708) was among the first group of boys pressed into the service of King Charles II, following the decade of Puritan rule. Blow would make compositional efforts as early as 1664 and, at the age of nineteen, began to assume professional positions within the London musical establishment, ultimately becoming, along with his pupil and colleague, Henry Purcell, London's foremost musician. Restoration sacred music is generally thought of in connection with the stile nuovo which, for the first time, came to be a fully accepted practice among English musicians for the church. But the English sacred polyphonic art, little threatened by England's largely political Reformation, embodied sufficient flexibility as to allow it to absorb new ideas, thereby remaining vital well into the seventeenth century. Preserved from decisive Italian influences by the Interregnum, the English sacred polyphonic tradition awoke at the Restoration full of potential for continuing creative activity. In addition to studying Blow's polyphonic compositions, including the transcription of several not available in modern edition, this paper seeks to address the unique nature of the English polyphonic tradition which allowed it to retain its vitality throughout the seventeenth century, while other polyphonic traditions were succumbing to the ossifying influences of the stile antico concept. Identification of the Continental stile antico through pertinent treatises and scores revealed a marked distinction between its application and the English polyphonic art as seen in the work of John Blow. In the end, the peculiar nature of Restoration polyphony is seen to be derived from a number of factors, among them, the continuation of liturgical ceremonial within the independent English church, the flexibility of the English polyphonic medium with regard to new musical developments, and the interruption of England's cathedral music tradition just as Italian influence was beginning to be felt in liturgical music. The sacred polyphony of John Blow represents the last great flowering of the English polyphonic tradition, with all of its idiosyncracies, in a lively, as yet unfettered style.

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xix, 557 leaves: ill., music

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  • August 1990

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  • Aug. 22, 2014, 6 p.m.

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  • May 9, 2016, 10:32 a.m.

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King, Deborah Simpkin. The Full Anthems and Services of John Blow and the Question of an English Stile Antico, dissertation, August 1990; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc332091/: accessed August 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .