22–25 November 2018
The British Library, London and The Foundling Museum, London
Nearly all of Handel’s music was composed for patrons of one kind or another, but this conference focused attention on his relations with those who commissioned or paid for his music. The theme was prompted by the tercentenary of Acis and Galatea, a high-water mark in Handel’s period of service with James Brydges, later first Duke of Chandos. This period was celebrated by a concert at St Lawrence, Whitchurch, in which the London Handel Players and vocal soloists performed a selection of ‘Cannons’ works, including those that require three tenors! A paper on Esther, first composed at Cannons and later revised in London, was one of four to discuss Handel’s relations with English patrons, among them Charles Jennens and the 4th Earl of Gainsborough. The opening contributions focused on Florence and Rome, but many other papers dealt with the patrons of his operas in London. One, however, discussed the role of Queen Caroline and another the music for the wedding of her daughter, Princess Anne, while a third explored Handel opera performances at Berlin in the 1740s. The conference had begun with a concert of chamber music, directed by Julian Perkins: the programme was built around the vocal trio Se tu non lasci amore (HWV 201a), of which the autograph score had recently been acquired by the British Library (with a contribution from the Handel Institute).