1717 A Floating Orchestra for King George- Almanac of Absurdities Flashback for 7.17.2012

Go ahead and click for audio. You will remain dry.

We all missed what appears to have been an extravagant party on this date in 1717. England’s King George the First decided he wanted a musical concert…and he wanted it on the River Thames. Some composers would have seen this as another impossible royal demand, but for George Frideric Handel, this was the opportunity he was looking for to get back into the King’s Good Graces. Before taking the throne, King George was the Elector of Hanover, and Handel’s Patron…but Handel left the future King miffed some years earlier by moving to London and working for Queen Anne of England. When Anne died, Handel’s old patron assumed the throne of England…and this was his chance to smooth over some ruffled feathers with the King, which is of course, no small thing. And neither was the concert. Fifty musicians and carefully chosen instrumentation were loaded aboard a barge to perform “Water Music”, the Three Suites Handel had composed for the occasion. The order of the suites was determined by the distance between the Orchestra’s Barge and the King’s Boat…louder and more Dynamic when the King’s boat was far away…and the softer and more delicate sections when he and his noble guests were close enough to hear the details. The Reviews came in from the King immediately…in fact he liked the compositions so much he demanded they be played twice more…exhausting the floating, possibly seasick musicians. What you’re hearing is the section called the “Air” in the Suite in F-Major. Much later in his life, Handel was called on to pull off another outdoor spectacular, this time the demand came from King George’s Son, George the Second…it was called Music for the Royal Fireworks. It’s also the birthday of the wonderful singer Phoebe Snow, who we lost earlier this year.

Album Notes:  Grateful Acknowledgments to Mike Koenig, and Drum 8.  Some Musical Motifs Written and Performed by Kevin McLeod,  Licensed under Creative Commons “Attribution 3.0″ http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/ and used here by permission, and with appreciation and thanks.  Some audio may be used under the Fair Use Doctrine.

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About denniscmichael

Voice Artist, Writer, Journalist, even sometime actor. For 18 years the writer and voice for CNN's Hollywood Minute.
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