England has no shortage of important composers who have contributed to the country’s rich musical heritage beginning in the late 1500s -- composers like John Dowland, William Byrd, Edward Elgar, Arnold Bax, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Henry Purcell.
But perhaps England’s most famous composer is not British at all: the German-born George Frideric Handel.
And unlike many composers who moved around a lot (think Mozart and Beethoven), Handel liked to stay put. And once he was on his feet financially in London, he rented a newly built house at 25 Brook St. in the city’s growing middle/upper class neighborhood. Handel lived there until he died in 1759.
For 36 years, the walls of 25 Brook St. were privy to some of the greatest music ever written:
- the oratorios “Samson,” “Judas Maccabaeus” and “Messiah”
- the coronation anthem “Zadok the Priest”
- the opera “Xerxes”
- and one of the last pieces Handel wrote: “Music for the Royal Fireworks."
And thanks to some dedicated preservationists, you can now see the house as it was in Handel’s day. The Handel House opened as a museum, performing space and learning center in November 2001.
(Bonus trivia: Jimi Hendrix lived in the house next door during the late 1960s.)
If you are the winner of the trip for two to London during CPR’s fall pledge drive, we encourage you to go see the Handel House and bring back pictures for us!