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Jeremiah Clarke (1674 - 1707)

Jeremiah Clarke
Born [location unknown]
Son of [father unknown] and [mother unknown]
[sibling(s) unknown]
[spouse(s) unknown]
[children unknown]
Died [location unknown]
Profile last modified | Created 24 Jul 2018
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Jeremiah Clarke was born c. 1674. [1] was an English baroque composer and organist, best known for his Trumpet Voluntary, a popular piece often played at wedding ceremonies. The exact date of Clarke's birth has been debated. Some sources give the date of birth ca. 1673, and the Dictionary of National Biography states that Clarke "is said to have been born in 1669 (though probably the date should be earlier)." Most sources say that he is thought to have been born in London around 1674. Clarke was one of the pupils of John Blow at St Paul's Cathedral and a chorister in 1685 at the Chapel Royal. Between 1692 and 1695 he was an organist at Winchester College, then between 1699 and 1704 he was an organist at St Paul's Cathedral.[2][3]He later became an organist and 'Gentleman extraordinary' at the Chapel Royal,[4]he shared that post with fellow composer William Croft,[5] his friend.[6] They were succeeded by John Blow.[7] Today, Clarke is best remembered for a popular keyboard piece that was originally either a harpsichord piece or a work for wind ensemble [8] the Prince of Denmark's March, which is commonly called the Trumpet Voluntary, written in about 1700.[9] From c. 1878 until the 1940s the work was attributed to Henry Purcell, and was published as Trumpet Voluntary by Henry Purcell in William Spark's Short Pieces for the Organ, Book VII, No. 1 (London, Ashdown and Parry). This version came to the attention of Sir Henry J. Wood, who made two orchestral transcriptions of it, both of which were recorded.[10] The recordings further cemented the erroneous notion that the original piece was by Purcell. Clarke's piece is a popular choice for wedding music, and has been used in royal weddings.[11][12] The famous Trumpet Tune in D (also incorrectly attributed to Purcell) was taken from the semi-opera The Island Princess, which was a joint musical production of Clarke and Daniel Purcell (Henry Purcell's younger brother or cousin)—probably leading to the confusion.[13][14] "A violent and hopeless passion for a very beautiful lady of a rank superior to his own" caused Clarke to commit suicide. Apparently, he fell madly in love with one of his female students, a young, beautiful woman, of much higher social rank than he.[15] But the woman was out of his league in every way, and he couldn't bear it. It is not known if the woman knew of his love and spurned him, or the love was reciprocated but the difference in their stations would not permit their union, or perhaps, if he was too shy to ever face her. But he decided life wasn't worth living.[16] Suicides were not generally granted burial in consecrated ground, but an exception was made for Clarke, who was buried in the crypt of St Paul's Cathedral [17] (though other sources state he was buried in the unconsecrated section of the cathedral churchyard.) Very curious discrepancies exist as to the exact date of when Clarke shot himself. While most sources give the date as 1 December 1707, the English music historian Charles Burney (followed by François-Joseph Fétis) says that the event took place on 16 July 1707;


  • Prince of Denmark's March, popularly known as Trumpet Voluntary (from the Suite in D Major)
  • Trumpet Tune in D, from The Island Princess

Harpsichord and organ music Chamber music, church music, masses, and other religious music

  • (including 20 anthems and several odes)

Theater and incidental music

  • King William's March
  • Ode on the Death of Henry Purcell
  • Music for Dryden's ode Alexander's Feast


  1. "Clarke, Jeremiah". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
  2. Gascoigne, Bamber (1994) Encyclopedia of Britain p. 653. Macmillan.
  3. Dennis Shrock Choral Repertoire, p. 325, at Google Books
  4. Gascoigne, Bamber (1994) Encyclopedia of Britain p. 653. Macmillan.
  5. Dennis Shrock Choral Repertoire, p. 325, at Google Books
  6. Gascoigne, Bamber (1994) Encyclopedia of Britain p. 653. Macmillan.
  7. Dennis Shrock Choral Repertoire, p. 325, at Google Books
  8. John Calvert A Collection of Anthems Used in Her Majesty's Chapel Royal, the Temple ..., p. 15, at Google Books
  9. "Jeremiah Clarke|English Composer, Britannica".
  10. Norris, Gerald (1981) A musical gazetteer of Great Britain & Ireland p. 61.
  11. David & Charles. Grove V, Vol. VIII, "Trumpet Voluntary"
  12. Fox, Dan (2007) World's Greatest Wedding Music: 50 of the Most Requested Wedding Pieces p. 7. Alfred Music Publishing. Retrieved 4 January 2011.
  13. Lefevre, Holly (2010) The Everything Wedding Checklist Book: All You Need to Remember for a Day You'll Never Forget p. 127. Adams Media.
  14. Matthews, Bette (2004) Wedding for All Seasons p. 119. Barnes & Noble.
  15. Cudworth, C., & Zimmerman, F. B. (1960). The trumpet voluntary. Music and Letters, 41:341–348 (see p. 347). Retrieved 4 June 2014.
  16. Rouner, Jef (2011-12-01). "Jeremiah Clarke: Why You Shouldn't Play "Trumpet Voluntary" at Your Wedding". Houston Press. Retrieved 2017-08-25.
  17. Hawkins,, John (1875). "Book XVII, Chapter CLXIV". A General Gistory of the Science and Practice of Music. 2 (Revised ed.). London: Novello, Ewer. p. 784. Retrieved 31 January 2017.

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Categories: English Classical Baroque Composers