Monday, 23 February 2015

On this day in history - Handel's birth and Elgar's death..

Handel's baptismal registration
Handel's baptismal registration
Today is the 330th anniversary of Handel's birth and the 81st anniversary of Elgar's death.

Handel was born on 23 February 1685 in Halle in Germany. Quite where the city was in Handel's time seems to have depended on who you asked. Handel seems to have regarded himself as Saxon, ie coming from Saxony (at the end of his life he still referred to his birthplace as 'Halle in Sachsen'. Historically the city was in the Duchy of Magdeburg but it was badly damaged in the 30 years war and taken over by the Duke of Saxony but in 1680 it was handed over to Brandenburg-Prussia whilst the Saxon court moved to Weissenfels. Handel's father was surgeon to the Duke in Weissenfels.

Coincidentally today is also the anniversary of Elgar's death. He died on 23 February 1934 in Worcester. Elgar had moved back to Worcestershire in 1923 after his wife's death. Though his writing had stopped, he had continued conducting and the famous recording of the Violin Concerto with Yehudi Menuhin was issued in 1932. And his music was undergoing something of a revival, the BBC organised festival to celebrate his 75th birthday in 1932. He began to work on his opera, The Spanish Lady and accepted a commission from the BBC for the third symphony (which would ultimately be elaborated by composer Anthony Payne).

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