D'Urfey, Thomas (dûrˈfē) [key], 1653–1723, English songwriter and dramatist. His comedies for the stage were forerunners of the ballad opera. In 1699–1700 Wit and Mirth; or, Pills to Purge Melancholy, which included his own witty, satirical songs and many older tunes adapted to new lyrics, played in London. This was a major source for ballad operas, including the tunes of John Gay's Beggar's Opera.
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