Pelham Humfrey

Pelham Humfrey (Humphrey, Humphrys) (1647 in London – 14 July 1674 in Windsor) was an English composer. He was the first of the new generation of English composers at the beginning of the Restoration to rise to prominence.

By the age of seventeen Humfrey's anthems were evidently in use and he was sent by the King to study in Paris, probably in January 1665 where he was greatly influenced by music at the French Court. On the basis of the music he wrote on his return, he also assimilated the more expressive vocal style of Carissimi. He later succeeded Henry Cooke (his father-in-law) as Master of the Children of the Chapel Royal and also became composer to the Court.

Humfrey died at the age of 27, but along with Matthew Locke exerted a strong influence on his peers even at his young age, including William Turner, Henry Purcell, and John Blow. His early death is considered one of the greatest tragedies in the history of English music; at his death he had already produced several works of great poignancy and expressive power including the Verse Anthem O Lord my God.

Humfrey's dress sense and general demeanour is mentioned unfavourably in the diary of Samuel Pepys. He writes:

One of Humfrey's best-known compositions is his setting of the poem "A Hymn to God the Father", by John Donne.

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