About

Jeremiah Clarke (1674 – 1707) was an English baroque composer. His most well-known work is Prince of Denmark’s March, popularly known as “Trumpet Voluntary”.

Life and Music

  • Probably born in London around 1674, Clarke was a pupil of english master composer John Blow at St Paul’s Cathedral. Clarke later became organist at the Chapel Royal.
  • Jeremiah Clarke’s most popular keyboard piece: the Prince of Denmark’s March, is usually referred to as the Trumpet Voluntary. From about 1878 until the 1940s the Trumpet Voluntary was attributed to Henry Purcell, and was published as Trumpet Voluntary by Henry Purcell in William Sparkes’s Short Pieces for the Organ, Book VII, No. 1 (London, Ashdown and Parry). Sir Henry J. Wood, he of The Proms fame, made two orchestral transcriptions of the work which he recorded.  This further embedded the erroneous notion that Voluntary was by Purcell.
  • The famous Trumpet Tune in D (also incorrectly attributed to Purcell), was taken from the semi-opera The Island Princess which was a joint musical production of Clarke and Daniel Purcell (Henry Purcell’s younger brother)—it may well be that this was behind the confusion.
  • “A violent and hopeless passion for a very beautiful lady of a rank superior to his own” caused him to commit suicide.

Jeremiah Clarke’s Works:

  • Prince of Denmark’s March, popularly known as “Trumpet Voluntary”
  • Trumpet Tune in D, from The Island Princess
  • Harpsichord and Organ Music
  • Masses and other religious music (including 20 anthems and several odes)

Jeremiah Clarke considered options of hanging and drowning, and in indecision decided to toss a coin to seal his fate. The coin landed in the mud on its side. Some would have taken this is a good omen but Jeremiah Clarke rather than console himself chose a third method of death, and shot himself with a pistol in St Paul’s Cathedral churchyard.

 

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