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What’s on Youtube: Sound The Trumpet

A look at the many Youtube video performances of Purcell's duet "Sound the trumpet."

two men singing

Photo: Bernard Gordillo

Mark and Alfred Deller singing Henry Purcell's "Sound the trumpet."

The opera The Fairy Queen is a popular source for singers of all levels wanting to perform some of Henry Purcell’s greatest hits. This is not only the case today, but in Purcell’s day, too. The opera has, at least, a dozen solo songs and duets that are guaranteed crowd-pleasers, which why I suppose so many people choose to record their own performances and put them up on Youtube.

I came across a performance by Alfred and Mark Deller of Purcell’s “Sound the trumpet” that can be considered quite stylish even if accompanied by modern guitar. Alfred Deller is recognized as the first great countertenor of the 20th Century, and Mark was his son and protégé. Their performance is part of an old television broadcast:


The Deller’s video is one of many “Sound the trumpet” performances on Youtube (I counted nearly fifty). From the traditional duet to an arrangement for choir, there are live versions that might have surprised even Purcell himself. The song is clearly a favorite and part of the vocal repertoire of many teachers and directors. And while few, if any, of the videos might be considered historically informed, you can’t help but to enjoy the music.

Who wouldn’t want to hear Purcell’s classic song performed by two young baritones, a soprano/tenor duo with electronic harpsichord, a Greek children’s choir, a soprano and baroque oboist, two modern trumpet players, a couple of college juniors in recital, or even a mother/daughter team?

In the end, it’s all fun.

Bernard Gordillo

Bernard Gordillo was born in Managua, Nicaragua, and raised in New Orleans. He holds degrees from Centenary College of Louisiana, the Early Music Institute at Indiana University, and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (London). Bernard also writes and hosts the Harmonia Early Music Podcast.

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  • bkallaur

    Ah! Live TV. Thanks for posting this. Much fun.

  • bkallaur

    Ah! Live TV. Thanks for posting this. Much fun.

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