By George! Handel's Music for Royal Occasions

07 February 2014 - 18 May 2014

No composer has been more closely associated with the British monarchy than German-born George Frideric Handel (1685-1759). His anthem Zadok the Priest has been performed at every coronation since that of King George II in 1727, while his Water Music was performed in 2012 on the River Thames for the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. 

In the 300th anniversary year of the coronation of George I, the first Hanoverian king, this fascinating new exhibition explores Handel and his music for royal occasions.

Handel enjoyed the patronage of three British monarchs during his lifetime: Queen Anne, George I, and George II. Employed by George I in Hanover, Handel had the advantage of knowing the new king before he ascended the British throne in 1714. Although he was not appointed Master of the King’s Musick, Handel was favoured by George I and his family, while the appointed Master was left to compose music for smaller, less significant occasions. Handel tutored the royal princesses and composed music for almost all important royal events. He went on to compose the coronation anthems for George II, as well as the Music for the Royal Fireworks and the famous Water Music.

The exhibition features treasures from the Gerald Coke Handel Collection as well as loans from the British Library, National Portrait Gallery and British Museum and never before seen items from the archives of Westminster Abbey.

By George! Handel’s Music for Royal Occasions is supported by the By George! Supporters’ Circle, the John S Cohen Foundation, the Golsoncott Foundation and Rothschild.

Image credit: 

NPG 1556, ‘The Music Party’ (Frederick Lewis, Prince of Wales, and his sisters, Anne, Princess Royal and Princess of Orange; Princess Caroline Elizabeth; Princess Amelia Sophia Eleanora) by Philip Mercier, oil on canvas, 1733, (c) The National Portrait Gallery

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