William Turner (composer)

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William Turner
Born 1651
Origin 1740
Occupation(s) composer, countertenor

William Turner (1651, Oxford – 13 January 1740, London) was a composer and countertenor of the Baroque era. A contemporary of John Blow and Henry Purcell, he is best remembered for his verse anthems, of which over forty survive. As a singer, he was a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal from 1669 until his death.[1]


Turner's association with the Chapel Royal began in the early 1660s, when he joined the choir there as a boy soprano. In 1666 his voice broke, but the year after he became master of the choristers at Lincoln Cathedral. In 1669, however, he rejoined the Chapel Royal as a countertenor, and upon the death (1672) of Henry Cooke (who had earlier cared for Turner in the year between his voice breaking and his appointment at Lincoln) became a member of the King's Private Musick. His career as a court chorister continued to prosper, as he sang in works by Blow and Purcell, including the solo alto parts in the St Cecilia's Day performances of 1687, 1692, and 1695. An appointment as vicar-choral of St Paul's Cathedral (1687) led to another as lay vicar of the choir of Westminster Abbey (1699). After 1696 he was normally referred to as "Dr Turner", with Cambridge University having granted him an honorary degree during that year.[2]


The substantial bulk of Turner's compositions comes from before 1700, and belong, for the most part, to the genre of sacred music, although he did write a few dramatic works. They consist of scattered hymns, a few services, approximately 40 anthems, and a motet. Among his dramatic works a couple of arias and a choral scene for Thomas Shadwell's The Libertine are especially noted.[3]


  1. ^ Grove
  2. ^ Grove
  3. ^ Grove


Don Franklin. "Turner, William (ii)", Grove Music Online, ed. L. Macy (accessed 10 October 2009), grovemusic.com (subscription access).

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