School of Thomas Hudson, portrait of George Frideric Handel, 1737 © Gerald Coke Handel Foundation copy
Handel inspired playlist

Handel inspired playlist

40 Brunswick Square London WC1N 1AZ
07 May 2020 — 28 May 2020
  • Music

Inspired by the Royal College of Music Museum‘s Twitter playlist challenge we’ve created our own Handel inspired playlist, which you can listen to on Spotify. Whilst listening you can read our inspirational thought process…

1. Handel was an international star, mixing with royalty and the cream of society… so here’s star cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, playing a Sicilienne by eighteenth-century composer Maria Theresia von Paradies, at the wedding of Prince Harry and Megan Markle. Sheku played with Chineke!, run by Foundling Fellow Chi-Chi Nwanoku.

2. Handel composed music for national celebrations – and his music, in turn, has been used for recent major events. The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba featured in the 2012 London Olympics, when TV viewers watched James Bond collecting the Queen from Buckingham Palace

3. Handel’s philanthropic work was crucial to the Foundling Hospital. In 2017, Artists for Grenfell released this remix of Bridge Over Troubled Water, featuring many high-profile performers.

4. When he wasn’t working, Handel was famous for his enormous appetite. So what better than Food Glorious Food, from Lionel Bart’s hit musical Oliver!

5. As an immigrant to the UK, Handel eventually took British citizenship. Many leading artists today have non-British roots – such as Kosovan-born Rita Ora, whose family moved to Britain when she was a baby. Here she is in Anywhere.

6. There’s no point writing a new tune when you can borrow an old one! Handel was a master at this – the eighteenth-century cover version, of his own music and others. In 1749 he wrote a special Foundling Hospital Anthem, which ended with the Hallelujah Chorus directly recycled from Messiah – like this!

7. Eighteenth-century musicians was fantastically good improvisors, and Handel was no exception. This is now a skill we more commonly associate with jazz musicians – so here’s trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and his quintet in a cover of the 1930s hit Them There Eyes.

8. As well as celebrating the good times, Handel also composed music to mark national sorrow – such as Music for the funeral of Queen Caroline in 1737. Here is a more recent song of mourning: Elton John’s Candle in the Wind, for the funeral of Princess Diana in 1997.

9. Did you know that Handel was the first composer to have his statue put up during his own lifetime? In 2015, Liverpool unveiled this statue of The Beatles, donated by the famous Cavern Club. Here’s a Beatles classic for the good weather: Here Comes the Sun.

10. Last but not least, Handel was a great art collector. Beyoncé and Jay-Z are also enthusiastic collectors of contemporary art – and Beyoncé has also commissioned several young artists, including photographer Awol Erizku, who took her pregnancy-announcement photos for Instagram featured in our Portraying Pregnancy exhibition. Here’s Crazy in Love.