William Sterling

Handel and Royalty

Handel fell in love with England on his first visit writing music for Queen Anne herself. He was reconciled with George I partly with his Water Music Suite and wrote the coronation music for George II.

It is an examination of how closely his music and career was bound up with the British royal family from Queen Anne to George II. George Frederick Handel (1685-1759) was one of the first composers to make a successful career independent of any major church or court appointment. Nevertheless, he had a very close association with the British Royal Family from Queen Anne to George II lasting nearly half a century from 1710 to 1759. This led to some of his greatest masterpieces including: The Utrecht Te Deum and Jubilate, The Water Music, Zadok the Priest, The King Shall Rejoice, The Dettingen Te Deum, The Music for the Royal Fireworks, and Judas Maccabeus.

The course will run through Handel’s life and career chronologically, concentrating on his relationship with members of the British Royal Family from 1710 to 1759. He was commissioned to write music for official royal celebrations such as a Te Deum and Jubilate to celebrate the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, the Water Music for a royal procession up the Thames in 1717, and when George II succeeded in 1727, 4 anthems for the coronation including Zadok the Priest which has been used at every subsequent coronation. Handel continued to write music for special royal occasions such as the marriage of the Prince of Wales in 1736, the funeral of Queen Caroline in 1737, and also to celebrate royal triumphs like George II’s victory at Dettingen (another Te Deum and anthem) in 1743, his son’s victory at Culloden (Judas Maccabaeus) in 1746, and the Music for the Royal Fireworks in 1748 to celebrate the end of the War of the Austrian Succession.

This course will run at the City Lit.