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Royal Fireworks

Composed by George Frideric Handel

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Royal Fireworks

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Music for the Royal Fireworks

Music for the Royal Fireworks is a suite of music composed by Handel for wind band in 1749. It was written to celebrate the end of the War of the Austrian Succession and the signing of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748 and was first performed in London's Green Park on April 27th 1749. The music was performed in a specially constructed building that had been designed by the theatre designer Servandoni in London's Whitehall district and was repeated on the River Thames a few weeks later on May 15th. The music provided a background for a special fireworks display designed by Thomas Desguliers. However, the fireworks display was not as successful as the music itself: the huge specially constructed wooden building caught fire. However, the music had been performed in public six days earlier, at a full rehearsal of the music in Vauxhall Gardens. An audience of more than twelve thousand people attended this, causing a three-hour traffic jam of horse and carriages after the main route to the south of the river was closed due to the collapse of the central arch of the newly built London Bridge. Music for “The Royal Fireworks” opens with a French overture and includes a bourrée and two minuets. The original work itself is in six movements: Overture, Bourée, La Paix, Minuet 1, La Réjouissance, and a Final Minuet. It was scored for a large wind band of 24 oboes, 12 bassoons (and a contrabassoon), 9 natural trumpets, 9 natural horns, 3 sets of kettledrums, and side drums which were given only the direction to play "ad libitum"; as no side drum parts were actually written by Handel. Handel was very specific about the numbers of instruments to each written part. In the overture 3 players were assigned to each of the 3 trumpet parts; the 24 oboes are divided 12, 8 and 4; and the 12 bassoons are divided 8 and 4. After the first performance Handel re-scored the suite for full orchestra.   

George Frideric Handel       
George Frideric Handel (1685–1759) was a German-born composer of the Baroque era, famous for his operas, oratorios, anthems and organ concertos. From an early age Handel was a skilful performer on both the harpsichord and pipe organ and went on to train in Halle, Hamburg and Italy before settling in London in 1712. He went on to become a naturalized British subject in 1727. George Frideric Handel is generally spelled and used in English-speaking countries, while in Germany he is better known as Georg Friedrich Händel. He was strongly influenced by the great composers of the Italian Baroque and the German choral tradition. Handel started three successful opera companies to supply the English nobility with Italian opera. In 1737 he became ill and had a physical breakdown. After this he changed direction creatively toward English oratorio and choral music based mainly on mythical and biblical themes. Almost blind, and having lived in England for almost fifty years, he died in 1759, a well respected and very rich man. His funeral was given full state honours, and he was buried in Westminster Abbey. Handel is widely regarded as one of the greatest composers of the Baroque era. Works such as "The Water Music", "Music for the Royal Fireworks" and "The Messiah" still remaining hugely popular. Of his four Coronation Anthems, "Zadok the Priest", composed for the coronation of King George II, has been performed at every subsequent British coronation. Handel composed more than forty operas in over thirty years, and since the late 1960s, with the revival of baroque music and original authentic period instrumentation, interest in Handel's operas has grown.

Arranged by Jock McKenzie

An Original Arrangement for Superbrass.

20:00 Minutes

4 Trumpets
1 Horn in F
3 Trombones
1 Euphonium
1 Tuba
2 Percussion

Trumpets 1 and 2 require Piccolo Trumpets.
Trumpets 4 require Flugelhorn.
Percussion section requires: Timpani and Tenor Drum.