George II and Handel

Alan Yorke-Long documents the beginnings of Georgian England's affair with the music of the Hanoverian composer.

A king who notoriously disliked “Bainting and Boetry” has yet imposed an inexorable custom on English musical life: at the first notes of the Hallelujah Chorus we all rise to our feet out of respect to the ghost of George II. In doing this we do not commemorate an expert musician such as Frederick the Great, whose opinions were based on solid attainments, but an egregious little man, who is not known to have uttered any opinion on music in the whole of his life. Just as this faindy absurd figure, preoccupied with his own dignity and with his domestic amours and disagreements, has survived with an enviable reputation, because of the national successes obtained during his reign, so by his instinctive divining of the supreme quality of Messiah he is remembered, on the whole undeservedly, as a lover of music and patron of Handel.

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