The New International Encyclopædia/Humfrey, Pelham

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HUMFREY, HUMPHREY, or HUMPHRYS, Pelham (1647-74). A famous English musician, and one of the founders of modern English music. He was born in London. He was one of the children of the Chapel Royal, and while yet a boy composed considerable Church music, and in a book of Divine Services and Anthems, published by Clifford in 1664, there are five anthems ascribed to him. Upon the breaking of his voice he was sent by Charles II. to France for instruction under Lully. The King was so impressed with the genius of the boy Humfrey that he caused him to be supplied with £200 from the secret-service money, to pay the expense of his journey, and in the two years following (1665-66) sent him £100 and £150, respectively. Upon his return in 1667, he was appointed to the Chapel Royal, where the music he had brought back with him was greatly admired. He had become very skillful in the art of scoring, which, added to his own genius, enabled him to compose anthems which have remained ever since models of beauty in expression, and strikingly apt in the artistic blending of words and music. He was appointed Gentleman of the Chapel Royal (1666) during his absence in France; became Master of the Children in 1672, Composer in Ordinary for the Violins to His Majesty in 1673, and wrote many pieces for the King's band, an organization modeled after “Les Petits Violons” of Louis XIV. His compositions are still in use (many of them still in manuscript) in all the cathedrals and churches of England and America. They are remarkable for their expression and depth of sentiment, as well as for discoveries and departures in harmony; for instance: the sharp fifth, as a passing note, the major third and minor sixth on a bass note, a sequence of imperfect fifth and the augmented or extreme sharp sixth, and the flat third and sharp fourth, combinations new to church music, were utilized by him for the first time. It is supposed from the fact that he frequently indulged in extreme keys, such as C minor and F minor, that his violinists did not use fretted finger-boards, but tempered their scales at will. He died at Windsor and was buried in the cloisters of Westminster Abbey near the southeast door.