Handel's Water Music stands alongside his Messiah and Music for the Royal Fireworks as one of the best-known works of a composer who went from operas to oratorios. The now-famous Baroque suite commissioned for a king’s ceremonial boat ride on the River Thames was first performed during the summer of 1717. Five years later, it was brought inside to London’s Stationers Hall. But whether the audience heard all or just part of the hour-long suite remains a mystery.
George Frideric Handel was born in Germany in 1685, and moved to Britain as a young man. He spent his most productive years there, and became a naturalized British subject in his early 40s. His now-famous Water Music suites,commissioned for King George I for a ceremonial boat ride on the River Thames in London, were first performed during the summer of 1717.
Five years later, Water Music was brought inside to London’s Stationers' Hall. But whether the audience heard just a portion, or the entire hour-long work, remains a mystery. WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston puts the well-known Baroque piece into perspective.
Steven Zohn, professor of music at Temple University's Boyer College of Music and Dance, adds context to Handel’s Water Music.