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     Congreve, William (24th January 1670-19th January 1729)

    He was a poet and playwright born in Bardsey, West Yorkshire, England in the reign of Charles II, and he grew up in Ireland with his father being a Cavalier was given the post of commanding a garrison. He studied at Kilkenny College and Trinity College. Dublin, and there we would first meet up with his lifelong friend, Jonathan Swift.  After graduating he went to London to study law at Middle Temple but he abandoned these studies in favour of literature and the arts and would collaborate with his contemporary, Jonathon Dryden. 


    He began writing plays and within a few years gained much acclaim with plays that have since been described as some of the most popular plays of the Restoration period of the late 17th century.  These include The Way of the World and The Mourning Bride.  It wasn’t an easy road for him though as after his fifth play the public taste turned and he was so heavily affected by a review of his work given by the theatre critic Jeremy Collier on the immorality and profaneness of the English stage that he wrote no more.  He did however leave us with lasting lines that we still know today such as “Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast” and “Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, nor hell a fury like a woman scorned”. 


    He moved into politics where he became a Whig and would hold various positions such as Customs Collector and Undersearcher.  Never returning to the theatre he translated works such as Monsieur de Pourceaugnac by Moliere and concentrated on poetry.  He turned to musical study and was awarded a prize after he had written the libretto for The Judgement of Paris and he wrote the opera Semele that would become the oratorio by George Frideric Handel. 


    Suffering ill health from the time he was around forty, he was afflicted by cataracts and gout, and after being involved in an accident with a carriage in the September of 1728, the injuries he sustained would take his life in 1729 when he was 59 years old. 


    Song of Jupiter recordings (William Congreve/George Frideric Handel/Leroy Anderson)


    Eastman Rochester Pops Orchestra

    Mercury 432 013-2 (CD: The Music of Leroy Anderson)

    Conductor - Frederick Fennell 



    1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Congreve_(playwright)
    2. http://www.theatrehistory.com/british/congreve001.html
    3. http://www.online-literature.com/congreve/





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