Handel’s Water Music – a Kings gift

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Its not everyday a King asks you to write a massive piece of music to celebrate the life of a river but this is what happened to George Frideric Handel who had to get it done for a performance on the auspicious date of 17/07/1717 by George the First . Timing it would seem when asking a composer to come up with something is all important. I expect they had a jolly laugh about it under the luxury Chandeliers even though they were German. Actually, you could recreate the event if you go to http://roccoborghese.com/ and order some. George needed a big gig to celebrate becoming King and take the attention of the public of the dashing young prince. He wanted someone like Handel, who was a bit of both, German and English, to do it. George had been made King as something of a surprise after inheriting it from the death of Queen Anne who left no nature hier. “Danke” indeed.

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“So, George,” said George.

“Yes, your majesty?” said the other George (lucky for us one of them was a King otherwise this will be a confusing conversation to read).

“Can you write me a nice big piece of music to celebrate me becoming King and annoy my Sons?” said George, the King one.

“Of course, I can”, said George the Composer one. It’s very likely this conversation was held in German though.

Handel’s Water music was born! Thus began an epic piece of orchestration designed to win over a public who were like;

“What! We’ve got a German King now? What happened to the Scottish ones?” asked the London Mob

“We killed the second one, Charles I after the civil war and then we thought we’d like a King again because the puritans were boring and banned Christmas and enjoying yourself. So ,we brought his son, Charles II, back but then his son James II wanted us to be Catholic again and we didn’t want to do that so we got the Dutch protestant lot to do it for a while but they left no heirs except this guy, apparently”, came the reply. Not in German this time.

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Handel got the piece done and ordered a really big orchestra because he’d deliberately written a for it to be played outdoors. It was all set to be played on the banks of the Thames and George (King) was boated up the Thames with a bevy of Aristocrats and court “favourites” (i.e. prostitutes) to hear the gig. As luck would have it wasn’t raining so people could see the Royal procession and know who was in charge now.

“Hey, look its that German guy, whose our King now.” Said a passer-by as they went about their dayly struggle against starvation, deportation and poverty.

“So it is! Oh, look, nice to see Miss Nell Gwyn’s tradition is being kept alive at Court”.

A big wave sent the barge shooting up the Thames so much os that the oarsmen could take the day off. The tune was a big hit with George that he asked for it three times more as he made his way back to Whitehall and his palace.

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