Philip Hayes and the Preservation and Dissemination of Purcell's Music in Eighteenth-Century England

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Philip Hayes (1738–97) was one of the most significant early collectors of music manuscripts in eighteenth-century Britain. He had a particular interest in the works of Henry Purcell, and owned or gained access to a remarkably large proportion of the composer’s surviving autographs, as well as important manuscripts in the hands of Purcell’s close colleagues. The Hayes collection, auctioned after Philip’s death, is a landmark of early musicology, but he also transcribed some of their contents into six large scorebooks, and I argue that it is these that demonstrate most clearly his significance to Purcell’s posthumous reception and to modern scholarship on the composer. Four of the books are now held at Tatton Park in Cheshire and, although their importance has been acknowledged by scholars for a few pieces, much remains to be done to explore their full potential as sources for Purcell’s works. Still more interesting are the two scorebooks now belonging within the Royal College of Music collection, which have been almost entirely overlooked until now. Where his copying in these six scorebooks can be compared to the notation in his sources, it shows a fidelity to the original musical content very uncharacteristic of his time, despite the notation being modernised; this suggests that Hayes’s copies of music by Purcell made from unidentified sources are reliable and may be considered primary texts. One work was added by Nigel Fortune to Purcell’s oeuvre on this basis in the 1960s; it is now possible to add a further hitherto unknown piece by Purcell, a devotional song for male voices. Together these manuscripts demonstrate not only the significance of Hayes as an individual in the dissemination and preservation of Purcell’s music, but also the burgeoning development of the role of the critical editor alongside the antiquarian and performer in approaching ‘ancient’ music in the late eighteenth century
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMusical Exchange between Britain and Europe, 1500–1800
Subtitle of host publicationEssays in Honour of Peter Holman
EditorsJohn Cunningham, Bryan White
Place of PublicationWoodbridge, Suffolk
PublisherBoydell & Brewer Ltd
Number of pages49
ISBN (Print)9781783274925
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020

Publication series

NameMusic in Britain, 1600–2000
PublisherBoydell and Brewer


  • Henry Purcell
  • Reception studies
  • Philip Hayes
  • Collecting
  • Manuscripts
  • Critical editing


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