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William Turner

born: 1651
died: 13 January 1740
country: United Kingdom

William Turner began his musical life as a chorister of Christ Church, Oxford, joining the Chapel Royal choir in the early 1660s. In 1664, at the age of just 13, he jointly composed the Club Anthem with chorister colleagues Blow and Humfrey. Turner served briefly as Master of the Choristers of Lincoln Cathedral in 1667, returning to sing countertenor in the Chapel Royal choir in 1669. He was later a member of the King’s Private Musick, worked at both St Paul’s and Westminster Abbey, appeared in plays and received a Mus.D. from Cambridge in 1696. He died at the age of nearly 90 (within a few days of his wife of 60 years) at the house in Duke Street, Westminster, which may have been a regular residence provided for members of the Chapel Royal. He continued to sign for his rent money as a member of St Paul’s choir right up to the time of his death, though it is to be suspected (and perhaps hoped) that he was not still singing alto in public at this great age. Like Child, his long life provides a fascinating continuous link between the Chapel Royal of two different ages, in his case those of Purcell and Handel.


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