John Eccles

Eccles was first and foremost a composer for the stage. He made his mark with the setting of a dialogue in the play The Richmond Heiress by Thomas D’Urfey in 1693, the singing debut of the actress Anne Bracegirdle. This was such a success "that he soon became one of London’s most popular theatre composers….Mrs Bracegirdle….thereafter sang only his music.." Eccles also wrote for Mrs Bracegirdle the song I burn, my brain consumes to ashes, which occurs in the second part of D’Urfey’s Don Quixote, and which became a standard for the so-called ‘mad song’. Her performance of this song was so celebrated that verses were written in praise of it, and were set by Purcell and others. Over the next 12 years Eccles produced the incidental music for nearly thirty plays, as well as a number of masques and operatic pieces. He also wrote an opera Semele, with libretto by Congreve. It has been suggested that Congreve may have intended the work for the opening of the Haymarket Theatre in 1705, but this was not to be. Eccles finished the score by 1707, but by this time Italian opera had become the rage, and Semele was never performed. Eccles collaborated with Henry Purcell to provide the music for several plays including The Richmond Heiress and The Comical History of Don Quixote (parts i and ii), and was responsible for setting texts by Dryden, Shadwell (the poet laureate) and other noted writers for the stage. Much of the music for parts 1 and 2 of Don Quixote was published in London in 1694: the present edition is based on this print.

Ecc 1 Sleep, poor youth

Larger works
Ecc 2-1 The Judgment of Paris
Ecc 2-2 The Judgment of Paris
Ecc 2-3 The Judgment of Paris

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