After the rise of public concerts in eighteenth-century London, which generally featured the latest compositions, a group of the nobility established a new concert series, the ‘Concert of Antient Music’. This series focused on ‘ancient music’, defined as music composed at least twenty years earlier, and Handel’s music featured extensively.
The concerts were patronised by the nobility and gentry, including King George III, and became known as the ‘King’s Concerts’. The King was an ardent admirer of Handel’s music, and even instructed that an extra concert, a performance of Messiah, be given annually for the benefit of the Royal Society of Musicians.
This display explores the repertoire, performers and patrons of this exclusive concert series in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Portraits of the most popular composers featured include Handel, Geminiani and Corelli, alongside the singers and other performers. Rarely seen items include the index of performances and payment records for performers, as well as letters, tickets and programmes of the concerts which benefited from the patronage of the King and the Royal Family.