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George Frideric Handel in London

When George Frederic Handel came to London it was an exciting time to be a musician. Find out why he came to London and what persuaded him to stay.

Handel came over to London in 1710, initially. There was the question of the succession looming over the country, and it was pretty clear by this stage that the kings of Hanover were going to be coming in. George, who was going to become George I, was Elector of Hanover at this time and Handel already worked with him. He came over to England on a bit of a sabbatical almost for working with George I, a bit of a cultural scout here for that incoming Royal family.

He comes in 1710 and it’s not meant to be a permanent stay, or at least we don’t think it was meant to be a sort of permanent thing when he first comes over.

But I think London at the time was such a place of opportunity. It’s the place where you go, if you want to make money in almost anything, and that’s especially true if you want to make money in the arts, then you come to London because you’re not having to rely on the patronage of one Monarch or court.

So these sorts of things, you can go make your fortune yourself. There is this much more open marketplace for these sorts of things. So yeah, he comes over and starts to yell. It starts to really do well and become part of British culture. In a big way. There’s a huge appetite for continental art at the time.

So for music and art and opera and all these sorts of things, there’s a huge upside. You have this sort of the beginnings of the grand tour, these middle upper class gentlemen going across the country and seeing all of the things that are contained within that grand tour and the ideas. So when they return home they have this idea that they’re really sort of cultured. And a lot of that’s tied up with an Italian opera and Handel’s obviously really able to capitalize on that because that’s his, that’s his background. He’s able to really draw on his previous experiences working in.

He makes a lot of connections, a lot of money and becomes part of British culture at the time. By the time George I came over in 1714, he’s already happened, he had pretty much established himself. And also it’s like, what you’re saying, that a sort of cultural scout for the Hanoverians they’ve got some people are aware of them.

Probably because of Handel that they’re more aware of the culture that they can bring and these sorts of things. So, yeah, it’s a really interesting environment that he finds himself in. And there is some, obviously there is some anti German sentiment at the time as well, which he has to deal with.

There are some similarities there, I think, with Hendrix as well, the idea of being an outsider and different and that being some discrimination because of that. So yeah, a really unique sort of time to come to London.

Hear more of what John Donegan from Hendrix and Handel House has to say about Handel in London in Episode 63 of our London History podcast.

 

Hazel Baker is an award-winning London Tour Guide and qualified CIGA guide who delivers guided walks and private tours in London. View all of Hazel’s walking tours.

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