Karlheinz Essl

Portrait KHE

Puzzle of Purcell

for mezzo soprano and electric guitar

Commissioned by Adrian Pereyra

Basics | Score | Performances


Puzzle of Purcell is a piece for mezzo soprano and electric guitar based on two songs of Henry Purcell (1659-1695): Music for a while (from the theater play „Oedipus”) and the famous Cold Song from his semi-opera „King Arthur”. Selected fragments of those songs form the material of my composition, where they are shuffled and re-combined in a highly intuitive manner. The electric guitar adds a new dimension to this music, which was originally rooted in the early English baroque by introducing sounds and playing techniques from rock music and heavy metal. By this, a new image has been rendered which bridges a time span of more than 300 years, telling a tale about grief and solace.


Puzzle of Purcell ist eine Komposition für Mezzosopran und E-Gitarre, die auf zwei Liedern von Henry Purcell(1659-1695) basiert: Music for a while aus dem Theaterst├╝ck „Oedipus” und dem bekannten Cold Song aus der Oper „King Arthur”. Ausgewählte Fragmente dieser beiden Lieder bilden das Material meiner Komposition, das auf intuitive Weise miteinander verwoben wird. Die E-Gitarre fügt dieser ursprünglich im englischen Frühbarock verwurzelten Musik durch Rock- und Heavy Metallsounds weitere Dimensionen hinzu. Daraus erwächst ein neues Klangbild, das 300 Jahre überspannt und eine Geschichte von Trauer und Trost erzählt. (Übersetzung: Adrian Pereyra)



An electric guitar with a humbucker pickup. The setting on the amplifier should create a warm, distorted sound with a long sustain. Playing techniques like hammer-on, pull-off, bending and right-hand tapping are used in this piece and are not explained in detail here. It is recommended to pluck with fingers instead of a plectron.

At some points, the mezzo soprano has to sing "shivering" repetitions of a note in order to evoke the impression of a freezing creature, as in ms. 21 etc.


The score of Puzzle of Purcell can be downloaded for free. Please note that the music is protected by copyright.

Karlheinz Essl: Puzzle of Purcell, p.1

Excerpt from Karlheinz Essl's Puzzle of Purcell (2017)
© 2017 by Karlheinz Essl

Karlheinz Essl: Puzzle of Purcell, p.5

Excerpt from Karlheinz Essl's Puzzle of Purcell (2017)
© 2017 by Karlheinz Essl

Home Works Sounds Bibliography Concerts

Updated: 4 May 2017