Landfill Harmonic Orchestra:

Happy Birthday
Evaristo Baschenis, born Bergamo, Italy, December 7th, 1617
Strumenti musicali, c.1665:

Music in Late 17thc. England

Henry Purcell, composer and organist, dominated the musical scene in England from c.1680 until his death at 38 years old. (Had he lived another 15 years he would have met Handel in London). Purcell wrote what is often regarded as the first English opera – Dido & Aeneas, 1689 (although the opera Venus & Adonis, by his contemporary John Blow, was composed in 1683). Purcell also composed extensively for the royal court, religious & instrumental music, and music for the theater. He composed the music for Queen Mary’s funeral in 1695; later the same year he himself died, and the funeral music he had written for Queen Mary was played at his own funeral; such was the high regard in which he was held by his musical peers and the court. Purcell developed his own very personal musical style, influenced by both Italian & French music of the period. In England today, he is regarded as our finest native born composer prior to the 20th century (Although Handel is the best loved ‘English’ composer from the 18th century, he was born in Germany, only later becoming a British citizen).


There are few depictions of musicians/musical instruments in England in the 17th century. There are, however, lots of Dutch and Flemish musical genre paintings during the period. There are also number of paintings of people playing musical instruments by the Dutch artist Peter Lely, who worked for most of his career in London. Lely’s painting,The Concert, includes a violone/great bass viol player, and a flute player; he also painted several portraits depicting women playing the baroque guitar.

There were close cultural ties, (art, music, science, architecture, garden design etc.) between Holland/Flanders (Belgium) and England throughout the 17th century. Despite there being several naval battles between England and Holland in the North Sea in the middle of the century, resulting from of disputes concerning trade/shipping, cultural ties were largely unbroken. (see Dutch movie: ‘Admiral – Michiel de Ruyter’, 2015). The last land-based invasion of England was by the Dutch in 1667. 1,500 soldiers landed in the exact spot I swam in Felixstowe, Suffolk, UK when I was a child – the invasion was not a success.The on/off animosity between the two countries continued until 1688 when the Dutch, in a bloodless coup, showed up on the south coast of England with 20,000 troops and made their way to London. Their leader, Prince William of Orange, subsequently became King William (by invitation), and his English wife became Queen Mary. ‘William & Mary’ now typically refers to the late 17thc. English style of art, furniture, decoration, & architecture.

*Aphra Behn, c.1640-1689, playwright & poet, of whom Virginia Woolf in ‘A Room of One’s Own’ said:

“All women together ought to let flowers fall upon the tomb of Aphra Behn, for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds.”

Aphra Behn is buried in the East Cloister, Westminster Abbey, London.
Portrait by Peter Lely, c.1670

-Richard Webb