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Choir singer at the Royal Chapel restored by Charles II Stuart on his return from exile (1660), John Blow was appointed at the age of nineteen, organist of Westminster Abbey (1668). He resigned twelve years later in 1680 in favor of his pupil Henry Purcell.
In 1669, he was attached to the court of King Charles II and became the official virginalist of the king. Become Gentleman of the Chapel Royal in 1674, Blow obtained in 1777 one of the three organist positions of the Royal Chapel. The same year, he was appointed Master of Children of the Royal Chapel, an important situation which he kept until his death. Among his pupils is Henry Purcell, ten years younger than him.
After Purcell's death, Blow composed one of the most beautiful “Tombs” ever written (duet of countertenors): Ode on the Death of Mr. Henry Purcell (1696) In 1687 Blow became chaplain and chapel master at Saint Paul's Cathedral in London, which was slowly rising from the ashes of the great fire of 1666. (Anthem for the Peace of Ryswick and the opening of St Paul's Cathedral, December 2, 1697) He succeeded Purcell as curator-tuner of court instruments after his death in 1695 and again became organist at Westminster Abbey. In 1699, his last post was that of first official composer of the Royal Chapel, recently created.
John Blow, "Master of the famous Mr. H. Purcell" as the epitaph engraved on his tomb indicates, rests with his pupil in Westminster Abbey, not far from the organ.
His work mainly includes sacred vocal music: a dozen Services, a hundred anthems (anthems), two motets in Latin (including Salvator mundi), but also secular music, instrumental music, occasional musics, many songs (for the birthday of kings and queens) and odes including the popular Begin the song composed in 1684 for the feast of Saint Cecilia, followed by several other Sainte-Cécile over the years.
Among his most outstanding works, we remember Music for the funeral of Queen Mary (1694), the funeral ode for the death of Purcell (1695) and especially the semi-opera Venus and Adonis (1684) "masque pour le divertissement du roi” who obviously influenced Purcell for his Dido and Aeneas (1689).