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Though born in Germany, composer George Frideric Handel lived most of life in London as an icon of the 1700s British musical scene. In fact, Handel received so much acclaim, he was given full state honors and a burial in Westminster Abbey, after having died wealthy and renowned. In this London Music Tour, led by a music historian, we will trace a course through Mayfair and Piccadilly, visiting some of the city’s most historic theaters and concert halls as well as the churches and houses where Handel worked and lived.
Using art and architecture to tell the story, and equipped with audio players that allow us to listen to some of the works we are discussing, we will immerse ourselves in the world of eighteenth-century Baroque London, when the British empire was expanding rapidly, and in the music that reflected this greatness.
Our tour will include visits to Burlington House, St. George Hanover Square, and Theatre Royal Haymarket, where the Messiah made its debut performance in London. We will also visit Handel's home, where he lived for thirty years.
Although ideal for music lovers, this walk is very much designed and geared for any culturally-curious person. We will learn about the role of the musical arts in London, and how, in the time of Handel, the city had an insatiable craving for new music. We will discuss the composer's complex relationship with his patrons and how he went from being a foreign composer to providing the anthems for the coronation of George II (including Zadok the Priest, which has been performed at every British coronation since).
Part of this walk will also dive deeply into opera and the differences between opera and oratorios, anthems and organ concertos as well as how Handel composed different works at different times of his life.
At the end of our time together, we will emerge with a much better appreciation of how Handel guided and nurtured music in Britain during the eighteenth century and how he still does today.
N.B. For private tours, we can include a private performance of Baroque Music as part of the tour.
Do we go inside the venues or just see them from the outside?
You will go inside the Handel House Museum and may pop into some churches that are relevant to the history of music in London.
Do we need to pre-purchase tickets?
There is no need to buy tickets in advance. Our docent will facilitate any ticket buying so you will not have to wait in line.
What if it’s raining?
Tours operate rain or shine, but in the case of inclement weather, your docent will modify the tour so more time is spent indoors. It never hurts to have an umbrella on hand.
Is this tour good for kids?
Yes! We have some excellent family friendly docents who can appeal to the learning styles of children. Please book privately if you have children under 13. Feel free to provide us with information about your children such as favorite school subjects, and hobbies. This way we can match you with the best possible docent.
Is this a walking intensive tour?
The pace of this walk is very relaxed, we cover about 1.5 mile.
In that paragon of travel documentaries, National Lampoon's European Vacation, there is a scene in which Ellen Griswold (Beverly D'Angelo) forgets to lock the door on the shared bathroom in their London hotel. A man comes in to brush his teeth and is pleasantly surprised when Ellen—washcloth over face and believing the man to be her hubby, Clark—calls to him from the bathtub to join her. Shock and hilarity ensue. The accidental intruder was played by none of ther than Robbie Coltrane, 16 years before he embodied Hagrid in the Harry Potter films.