Henry Purcell (b. London, c.1659, d. Nov. 21, 1695), an English composer, who was the nation's greatest musical genius of the post-Restoration period. Excelling in almost every aspect of musical composition used by contemporary English composers, Purcell had a melodic gift that bore fruit in songs of great poignancy and dramatic power, harmonic adventurousness that led him to contrive progressions that create striking emotional effects, and contrapuntal skill that allowed him to make frequent use of the seemingly constricting device of the "ground bass" without checking his abundant inventiveness. (National Portrait Gallery, London)
From the 1995 Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia.