Jeremiah Clarke


Although now chiefly remembered for the 'trumpet voluntary', an arrangement by Sir Henry Wood of Clarke's The Prince of Denmark's March, Jeremiah Clarke was a leading English composer of the generation following Purcell. He contributed to many genres, from church music and harpsichord music, to incidental music for the theatre, and died from a self-inflicted gun wound on 1 December 1707 following an unhappy love affair.

Clarke's origins have been lost, though it is thought he was born around 1674. He was known to be a chorister at the Chapel Royal at the time of James II's coronation in 1685 and on 6 June 1699 was appointed a vicar-choral at St Paul's Cathedral in London.

Further posts, as organist at the Chapel Royal and Master of the Choristers at St Paul's, followed before his early and tragic death, the result of a mental breakdown. He was buried in the crypt of St Paul's.

Clarke's music is generally tuneful and displays a great melodic gift. Some of his anthems celebrate significant events of the time: Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem, for example, was written to mark the coronation of Queen Anne in 1702. His harpsichord music is particularly admired, though recent scholarship suggests that The Prince of Denmark's March may have actually begun life as a piece for trumpet and wind ensemble.

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