George Frideric Handel's
and his Times
1760 and Beyond
Abbreviations used for locations:
CG : London, Covent Garden Theatre
DLT : London, Drury Lane Theatre
FHC : Foundling Hospital Chapel
KT : London, King's Theatre, Haymarket
LIF : Lincoln's Inn Fields
LTH: London, "Little Theatre" in the Haymarket
NMH: Dublin, Mr. Neal's Musick Hall (or the Great Music Hall), Fishamble Street
QT : London, Queen's Theatre, Haymarket
TaG : Theater am Gänsemarkt, Hamburg
WA : Westminster Abbey
John Mainwaring's (ca. 1724-1807) biography of Handel, "Memoirs of the Life of
the Late George Frederic Handel," is published anonymously. [London] (NOTE:
Facsimile reprints of the "Memoirs" are published in 1964 and 1975.)
- 25 October : King George II dies. [Kensington Palace, London]
Johann Mattheson (1681-1764) publishes an
expanded translation of Mainwaring's Handel memoirs titled "Georg Friederich Händels
(around this date) John Christopher Smith,
the younger, composes Tobit, a pasticcio oratorio of Handel's works, with
recitative by Smith. Thomas Morell is the librettist.
- The Opus 7 organ
concertos are published by John Walsh, the younger.
Thomas Arne (1710-78) performs Alexander's
Feast. John Stanley and John Christopher Smith, the younger, are both upset as they
were already engaged in the performance of Handel's oratorios since his death. In
retaliation they perform various Handel oratorios on the same nights as Arne's
performances. Arne decides not to produce any more Handel oratorios.
- 15 July : Louis François Roubiliac's monument in memory of GFH is unveiled. It
incorrectly lists his birthdate as "February XXIII, MDCLXXXIV" (NOTE:
this spurious birthdate was miscalculated under the incorrect assumption that GFH was born
under the old Julian calendar. Rather, at the time of his birth in Saxony/Magdeburg, the
new Gregorian calendar was already in use). [WA]
- John Christopher Smith, the elder (1683-), dies.
- 16 March : John Christopher Smith, the younger, premieres Nabal,
a pasticcio oratorio of Handel's opera arias and choruses from anthems and Latin psalms.
Thomas Morell is the librettist. [CG]
- John Walsh, the younger (1709-), dies.
- 25 June : The composer (and GFH's friend) Georg Philipp Telemann dies from
pneumonia (1681-). [Hamburg]
- Earl Cowper promotes performances of Alexander's Feast and Messiah.
16 January : A partial
performance of Messiah takes place at George Burn's Music Room in the New York
City Tavern. As reported by the 'New York Journal':
- The composer John Stanley (1712-86) is elected a governor of the Foundling Hospital and
from 1775 until 1777 he directed the annual performance of Messiah in aid of the
"...A SACRED ORATORIO, on the Prophecies concerning CHRIST, and
his Coming: being an Extract from the late Mr. Handel's Grand Oratorio, called the
MESSIAH, consisting of the Ouverture, and sixteen other Pieces, viz, Airs, Recitatives,
and Choruses. Never performed in America."
- 21 May : Michael Arne
conducts the first performance of Messiah in Germany. [Hamburg]
- 20 November : Charles
Jennens (1700-) dies. [Gopsall, Leicestershire; buried at Nether Whitacre, Warwicks]
- Charles Jennens' music collection is
bequeathed to the Earl of Aylesford. Later, the Earl's collection is referred to as the
- 25 February : The English composer Samuel Arnold (1740-1802) presents Omnipotence,
a pasticcio of Handel's works. [LTH]
- Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach conducts Messiah
- The Concert of Antient Music forms. Joah Bates is the musical director.
- Wolfgang Mozart (21) attends Georg Vogler's rehearsal of Part I of Messiah
- The Baron van Swieten (1733-1803) persuades the Tonkünstler Sozietät to put
on a considerably altered Judas Maccabaeus. The performance failed to raise
significant funds for charity. [Vienna]
- The Baron van Swieten holds regular informal meetings on Sundays at his library. Mozart
becomes acquainted with the music of J.S. Bach and Handel. [Vienna]
- 26 May - 5 June : Five concerts
devoted to the music of GFH are directed by Joah Bates (1740-1799). Mistakenly, this
festival is touted by its organizers as the "Handel Centennial Commemoration."
(See 1762 note above.) It is sponsored by the aristocratic directors
of the Concert of Antient Music. [WA]
- 10 March : Samuel Arnold produces Redemption, a pasticcio of
Handel's works. [CG]
- Johann Adam Hiller (1728-1804) directs Messiah. Hiller is one of the first to
update Handel's scoring to current musical tastes. [Berlin]
- Samuel Arnold begins to publish his collected edition of GFH's works. He publishes the
180 part edition up through 1797.
- November : Mozart arranges Acis
and Galatea for Baron van Swieten's "Society of Associated Cavaliers".
- 27 February : Samuel Arnolds
produces The Triumph of Truth, a pasticcio from Handel's works and others. [DLT]
- 6 March : Premiere of Mozart's arrangement of Messiah for the
Society. [Palffy Palace, Vienna]
- July : Mozart arranges Alexander's
Feast and the Ode for Saint Cecilia's Day for the Society. [Vienna]
- Handel Festival held. Frans Joseph Haydn attends. [WA]
- The Academy of Ancient Music disbands. [London]
- 3 October : John Christopher
Smith (83; 1712-), the younger, dies. [Bath]
- William Coxe's (1747 - 1828) "Anecdotes of
George Frederick Handel and John Christopher Smith" is published by W. Bulmer
and Company (London). (NOTE 1: William Coxe is John Christopher
Smith's stepson. NOTE 2: A facsimile reprint -- with an introduction by Percy M. Young --
is published in 1979.)
- Wolfgang Mozart's arrangement of Messiah
(with further additions by Hiller) is performed at Covent Garden. A critic from the Sun
"we entertain a very
high respect for the genius of Mozart, but we also hold the unrivaled powers of Handel in
due reverence, and therefore must enter our protest against any such alterations in works
that have obtained the sanction of time and of the best musical judges."
- 1, 4, 6 April : Messiah
(spread over several nights) is performed by The Handel & Haydn Society (Boston). On
each successive night, one part of Messiah and the corresponding part of Haydn's Creation
- Christmas Day: First American
premiere of Messiah, complete, at a single performance -- by The Handel &
Haydn Society. [Boylston Hall, Boston]
- 8 July : The German musicologist Karl Franz Friedrich Chrysander
(-1901) is born. [Lübtheen, Mecklenburg]
- The English Handel Society, the first Handelian publishing society, is founded by Sir
George Macfarren (1813-87) 'for the production of a superior and standard edition of the
works of Handel' (according to its prospectus). [London]
- The English Handel Society folds. [London]
- Victor Schoelcher (1804-93), the French writer and politician, is exiled. He spends the
next 18 years in England where his fascination with Handel is born.
- The Handel & Haydn Society begins to perform Messiah annually during the
Christmas season. [Boston]
- The Deutsche Händel-Gesellschaft is founded by Chrysander and the literary historian
Gottfried Gervinus (180571) for the publication of a critical and uniform edition of
the whole of Handel's works. Friedrich Chrysander is the sole active editor. [Leipzig]
Victor Schoelcher's book "The Life of
Handel" is published. It is written by Schoelcher in French; James Lowe translates it
into English. This is the first Handel biography to be based upon solid documentary
research. In writing the book, Schoelcher assembles a vast collection of Handelian
literature, music, and portraits.
- 15, 17, 19 June : The
"Great Handel Festival" or "Trial Festival", organized by The Sacred
Harmonic Society, is held. A choir of approx. 2000 singers and an orchestra of 500
instrumentalists under the direction of Sir Michael Costa performed Messiah, Judas
Maccabaeus, and Israel in Egypt. [Crystal Palace, Sydenham, London]
- October : Chrysander and Max Seiffert, editors, publish the first
volume of a critical edition of Handel's works: G.F. Händel's Werke: Ausgabe der
Deutschen Händelgesellschaft (referred to elsewhere with the initials
"HG"); this volume contains Susanna.
- June : The Handel Commemoration ("Second Grand Handel
Festival") is held. A choir of 2765 singers and an orchestra of 460 instrumentalists
under the direction of Sir Michael Costa performed Messiah, Israel in Egypt,
and other selections. Following this performance, Handel festivals are held triennially
until 1926. [Crystal Palace, Sydenham, London]
- The Deutsche Händel-Gesellschaft folds. Friedrich Chrysander takes over the production
of the editions himself, though retaining the society's name.
- Chrysander publishes second volume of
- The "Great Triennial Handel Festival" is held. [Crystal Palace, Sydenham,
- Friedrich Chrysander begins to print and distribute the edition on his own in small
printing shop in his garden. He never completes publication of his critical edition of
Handel's works. [Bergedorf, near Hamburg]
- Chrysander publishes third volume of Handel's
- Victor Schoelcher's Handelian collection,
known as the "Fonds Schoelcher", is donated to the Paris Conservatoire in
three stages; it is now located with the Bibliothèque Nationale.
- George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), Irish
dramatist, novelist, and critic, comments in a review of a performance of Messiah
"Why, instead of wasting huge sums on the multitudinous dullness of
a Handel Festival does not somebody set up a thoroughly rehearsed and exhaustively studied
performance of the Messiah in St James's Hall with a chorus of twenty capable artists?
Most of us would be glad to hear the work seriously performed once before we die."
- The Handel Society is formed; it is an amateur choral and orchestral society to revive
his less well-known oratorios, as well as other choral music. [London]
- Handel Bicentennary is held.
- 3 September: Chrysander
dies. [Bergedorf, near Hamburg]
Romain Rolland's (1866-1944) biography "Haendel" is pubished in French; it is
translated into English in 1916.
- Richard A. Streatfield's (1866-1919) biography "Handel" is published; it is
reprinted in 1964.
- 26 June : Oskar Hagan, an
art history teacher at the University of Göttingen, stages Rodelinda -- the
first staging of a Handel opera since 1754. This lead to the birth of the annual
Göttingen Händel Festival. [Stadttheater, Göttingen]
- Sir Walter Newman Flower's (1879-1964) biography "George Frideric Handel: his
Personality and his Times" is published. (A second edition is published in 1947.)
- The Neue Händel-Gesellschaft is founded on
the German musicologist Arnold Schering's initiative. The society publishes a
Händel-Jahrbuch (1928-33, ed. R. Steglich), the Hallische-Händel-Ausgabe (HHA;
performing editions of Handel's works), and organizes a number of festivals. [Leipzig]
- The Göttinger Händel-Gesellschaft is formed.
- Willam Charles Smith (1881-1972), English musical librarian and biographyer, begins to
assemble a personal collection of Handel material. This collection eventually contained
over 200 early Handel editions and manuscripts.
- Erich H. Mühler's "The Letters and Writings of Georg Frideric Handel" is
- The Handel Society folds. [London]
- The Deal and Walmer Handelian Society is founded by the Handel scholar James S. Hall
(1899-1975); its purpose is principally to give performances of the choral works.
- Percy M. Young's (1912-) biography "Handel" is published. It is republished
three times -- the last time in 1979.
- William C. Smith's "Concerning Handel" is published.
- Percy M. Young's "The Oratorios of
Handel" is published.
- The Händelfestspiele Halle (Halle Handel Festival) begins.
- "Handel: A Symposium" is published; Gerald Abraham, editor.
With the encouragement of Edward J. Dent, the Handel Opera Society is founded; its
purpose is for "reviving public interest in professional stage performances of
Handel's dramatic works" (operas and oratorios). In total, 28 works were staged.
Music director (until 1985): Charles Farncombe. Modern instruments and harpsichord are employed.
Otto Erich Deutsch's (1883-1967) "Handel: a Documentary Biography" is
published in English; it is reprinted in 1974. A German translation, volume 4 of the Händel-Handbuch,
is published in 1985. (NOTE: In volume 4, some information from Deutsch's reference
is deleted and some new information is included.)
- A new society, the
(GFHG), is founded for the publication of a new collected edition, known as the
(Halle Handel Edition; referred to elsewhere with the initials: "HHA").
Originally, the intent of the edition is to supplement Chrysander's editions; however, in
1958 it is announced that a full critical edition will be produced. The GFHG also supports
the annual Handel festivals and begins to publish the annual Händel-Jahrbuch.
- The Danish musicologist Jens Peter Larsen's (1902-88) "Handel's Messiah: Origins,
Composition, Sources" is published; a second edition is published in 1972.
- Winton Dean's (1916-) "Handel's Dramatic Oratorios and Masques" is published
by Oxford University Press.
The German musicologist Rudolf Steglich's
(1886-1976) biography "Georg Friedrich Handel" is published.
- William C. Smith's "Handel: a Descriptive Catalogue of the Early Editions" is
published. (A second edition is published in 1970.)
- Gerald Coke purchases William C. Smith's Handel collection. Coke incorporates this
collection with his own at Bentley, Hampshire. (See 1934.)
The Henry Watson Library, Manchester, acquires Sir Walter Newman Flower's extensive
Handel collection (which includes the bulk of the Aylesford Manuscripts.)
- William C. Smith's "A Handelian's Notebook" is published.
- The American musicologist Paul Henry Lang's (1901-91) biography "George Frideric
Handel" is published.
- Winton Dean's "Handel and the Opera Seria" is published by the University of
California Press; it is republished in London in 1970..
- Princeton University purchases the James S. Hall Handel collection.
- The "Handel Opera Society" is renamed "Handel Opera".
- The "London Handel Festival" is founded by Denys Darlow.
- The Hallische Händel-Ausgabe
publishes the first volume of the Händel Handbuch. Volumes 1-3 contain the Thematisch-systematisches
Verzeichnis prepared by Bernd Baselt (1934-93). Handel's works are organized by HWV
numbers.) Volume 4, Dukemente zu Leben und Schaffen, a German translation of Otto
Deutsch's "Handel: a Documentary Biography," is published in 1985. (See 1955
- John Eliot Gardiner (1943-) becomes the
artistic director of the Göttingen Handel Festival.
- The Göttinger Händel-Gesellschaft begins to publish the Göttinger Händel-Beiträge
(Editor: Hans Joachim Marx; 1935-), an annual journal.
- Christopher Hogwood's (1941-) biography
"Handel" is published by Thames & Hudson; it includes a chronological table
by Anthony Hicks.
- The Handel Opera Society closes following its production of Rodrigo. [London]
- Jonathan Keates' biography "Handel: the
Man and his Music" is published.
- 8 November - 23 February 1986
: The National Portrait Gallery, London, holds an exhibition, "Handel: A Celebration
of his Life and Times". A book to accompany the exhibition is published (edited by
- Winton Dean and J. Merrill Knapp's (1914-93)
"Handel's Operas 1704-1726" is published by Oxford University Press; it is
revised in 1994.
- The "Handel Tercentenary
Collection" (edited by Stanley Sadies and Anthony Hicks) is published.
Institute (of Great Britain) is established. [London]
- Nicholas McGegan (1950-) becomes the artistic director of Göttingen Handel Festival,
replacing John Eliot Gardiner.
- Donald Burrows' biography "Handel" is published.
- Hampshire Record Office receives the papers
(letters) of the Harris family, the Earls of Malmesbury. These become known as the
"Malmesbury Papers". A significant number of James Harris' letters pertain to
- "The Cambridge Companion to Handel" is published by Cambridge University Press;
Donald Burrows, editor.
Last updated : 30 July 2006
Return to the G. F. Handel Home Page