In Purcell’s day, Covid-19 would have been just another pestilence upon the land. (Purcell portrait by John Closterman)
There is some live music in San Diego these days. On Friday, September 11, I and my kids were able to attend Mainly Mozart’s drive-up Resilience concert at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. According to Mainly Mozart CEO Nancy Laturno, “Resilience was conceived as a product of quarantine in recognition of the incredible ability of humans to adapt and to thrive.”
The Resilience concerts showed Mainly Mozart’s ability to adapt as an organization. When it came to the music, the performance was spectacular but I found myself having to infer resilience as it was not self-evident in the pieces selected.
In the Friday concert, there were three pieces of classical music performed along with other styles including, fiddle music, Billy Joel, and an original composition by pianist Joshua Fobare.
Of the three classical pieces, my kids and I enjoyed the trumpet sonata by Henry Purcell the most. It was performed by Indiana Symphony principal trumpet, Conrad Jones.
I recalled that Purcell was born just after the Restoration of the English Monarchy and the crowing of King Charles II. King Charles II reigned for 25 years. King James II came to the throne after Charles Ii died in 1685.
Purcell, an established composer by then, composed I was glad and My heart is inditing for the coronation of James II. Three years later James II was deposed and replaced by a constitutional monarchy.
Purcell managed to be the most successful composer in English history in spite of living through three different political regimes. When Purcell was a boy, Charles II had public executions of political conspirators against the crown.
James II was deposed because of his abuse of power. The removal of James II was “bloodless” but it did involve a foreign army, led by William III of Orange, invading England.
The details of this historical period are confusing, but what was consistent over all three political environments was the resilient Henry Purcell composing great music. Purcell would remain the undisputed greatest English composer for over 200 years. Handel doesn’t count as an English composer.
The resilience of Purcell inspired me to consider my own resilience. In Purcell’s day, Covid-19 would have been just another pestilence upon the land.
In Purcell’s day, the political upheaval was real. There was no such thing as a peaceful transfer of power. I was inspired to revisit my opinions about the presidential administrations I’ve lived through.
The resilience of Henry Purcell has reminded me that great music can thrive in any context.