London: R. Baldwin jun. .
Creased at vertical folds; tape repairs to verso with resultant stains to upper and lower margins; minor loss of paper to upper left corner, slightly affecting text.
Handel composed the music for the Royal Fireworks at the behest of King George II; the performance took place in London on April 27, 1749.
"The 1749 oratorio season ended on 23 March with Messiah (not revived since 1745 but from now on to become an annual fixture), by which time preparations were well under way for a national celebration of the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, the treaty ending the War of the Austrian Succession. The main public event was to be a fireworks display in Green Park, presented on an elaborate triumphal arch built by the stage designer Giovanni Servandoni. Handel produced an anthem (How Beautiful are the Feet, or ‘The Anthem on the Peace’) for the official service of thanksgiving at the Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace, on 25 April, mainly based on music from Messiah and other works. His more significant contribution was ‘The Music for the Royal Fireworks’, to be played outdoors at the display. It took the form of an orchestral suite, beginning with an especially splendid overture. Handel’s original intention (as confirmed by the indications in his autograph score) was that it should be performed by a massive wind band of 24 oboes, 9 horns, 9 trumpets, 12 bassoons and three sets of timpani, but before completing the score he decided to reduce the numbers and to double the woodwind with strings. This caused annoyance, as (according to letters written by the Duke of Montagu to Charles Frederick, ‘Comptrollor of His Majesty’s Fireworks’) it was the king’s wish that there should be ‘martial musick’ only, without ‘fidles’. It seems, however, that Handel had his way. To satisfy the enormous public interest in the music an open rehearsal was held in Vauxhall Gardens on 21 April. Despite a charge of half-a-crown per person, the event attracted a huge crowd, reported to be ‘above 12,000 persons’ and causing ‘such a stoppage on London Bridge, that no carriage could pass for three hours’. At the display itself on 27 April, the music was played at the start of the proceedings, the fireworks following immediately. Shortly afterwards Handel found an occasion at which the Fireworks Music could be played with normal orchestral forces. On 7 May he attended a meeting of the general committee of the Foundling Hospital, founded nine years earlier by Thomas Coram ‘for the Maintenance and Education of Exposed and Deserted Young Children’. His proposal for a concert in the newly-built chapel of the hospital, for the benefit of the charity, was accepted, and he was elected a governor. The concert took place on 27 May, with a programme consisting of the Fireworks Music, the Anthem on the Peace, extracts from Solomon, and a new anthem, Blessed are they That Considereth the Poor, which became known as the Foundling Hospital Anthem. It was the start of an important relationship with the hospital which lasted for the rest of Handel’s life." Anthony Hicks in Grove Music Online.
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