from Music for the Royal Fireworks, HWV351
by George Frideric Handel
George Frideric Handel was born in 1685 in Halle, Germany and died in 1759 in London, England. In Handel’s time, today’s Germany was part of the Holy Roman Empire.
Handel moved to London in 1710 and established himself as a composer of great note. When Music for the Royal Fireworks premiered in 1749, Handel had written hundreds of works and the British Parliament had named an Act after him, Handel’s Naturalisation Act 1727.
Handel is remembered as a philanthropist as well as a composer. His first benefit concert for the Foundling Hospital, UK’s first children’s charity, took place in 1750 and featured Music for the Royal Fireworks and Hallelujah Chorus from Messiah.
Music for the Royal Fireworks premiered at an event to celebrate the signing of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle. King George II specified that the piece should be played by a military band without strings. Perhaps this was just as well, as things didn’t go quite to plan on the night. The musical performance went well, but several fireworks misfired, causing a pavilion to catch fire and injuring several people.
Handel later re-orchestrated Music for the Royal Fireworks to include strings. The work is a suite, which at that time was a name given to a collection of dance movements.
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