Handel's Water Music

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About This Performance

Written for King George I of Great Britain in 1717 and first performed by 50 musicians on a barge in the River Thames, Handel’s Water Music is a collection of three suites that exemplify Baroque orchestration,  minus the harpsichord and timpani, which - let’s face it - would have been difficult to maneuver onto a barge in 1717. Despite these logistically-driven choices, George I reportedly loved the piece so much that he made his exhausted, boat-bound musicians play the whole thing three times before the river cruise ended.

Fast forward to the present – Handel, revered after his death by composers like Mozart and Beethoven, has benefited perhaps more than any other composer from the revival of interest in Baroque music and period instrumentation. Conductor and harpsichordist Emmanuelle Haïm, founder of Le Concert d’Astrée, might well have been left on the jetty with her too-heavy instrument for the original performance, but her love of Baroque music generally, and Handel specifically, ensures that modern audiences experience Handel like the audience did aboard the royal barge on that day in July 1717.

Programs, artists, dates, prices and availability subject to change.


Upbeat Live: pre-concert talks

  • Thursday, November 17, 2011 - 7:00pm

Lucinda Carver

Lucinda Carver, pianist, harpsichordist, conductor and Professor at the USC Thornton School of Music