Although trio sonatas were imported to England since at least the 1670s, Henry Purcell (1659–1695) was the first English composer to seriously engage with the genre as a compositional medium, writing 22 sonatas in the early 1680s: published in two collections (1683 & 1697). His models were mid-century sonatas rather than those of Corelli and Bassani, but his sonatas were also heavily indebted to the English consort music tradition. Though esteemed, Purcell’s sonatas inspired few direct imitators. Indeed, it was not until the turn of the century that English composers began to publish collections of trio sonatas, and when they did Corelli’s influence was distinctly evident: these works are typically ignored in critical discourse as pale imitations of Corelli by second-rate composers. Nevertheless the collections of men such as Matthew Novell, James Sherard and William Topham offer excellent examples of a little-studied English style of ‘Italiante’ composition that reached its height in the first decade of the 18th century. With this in mind, my main focus in this paper is on English composers writing trio sonatas in England after Purcell and how these works relate to networks of patronage and the wider economics of elite culture.


  • Trio sonata, Henry Purcell, reception history
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEine Geographie der Triosonate
Subtitle of host publicationBeitraege zur Gattungsgeschichte im Europaeischen Raum
EditorsInga Mai Groote , Matteo Giuggioli
PublisherSchweizerische Musikforschende Gesellschaft
Number of pages27
ISBN (Print)978-3034326193
Publication statusPublished - 26 Mar 2018
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