Townsend: Handel's Visit to Dublin

Pdf Townsend, Horatio. An account of the visit of Handel to Dublin. Dublin: James McGlashan, 1852.
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An Account of the Visit of Handel To Dublin by Horatio Townsend, published 1852, describes the visit of the world famous German composer Georg Friedrich Händel (1685-1759) to Dublin . He was invited to Dublin on the invitation of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, William Cavendish, 3rd Duke of Devonshire where the first performance of his most famous oratorio, Messiah, was first performed at the Great Music Hall on Fishamble Street in 1742.

Handel was born the son of a surgeon in the city of Halle , Duchy of Magdeburg in 1685 and against his father's wishes for him to study Civil Law, became a musician starting with the clavichord before mastering the harpsichord and organ. He gave up his studies at the University of Halle before joining the orchestra at the Hamburg Opera house, befriended other musicians and began writing his own successful works in the early 1700s. Invited to Italy by the De Medici family, his career flourished with successes in Florence , Rome and Venice .

Handel returned to Germany where he enjoyed the patronage of Prince George , Elector of Hanover. Following the death of the British Queen Anne in 1714, the Elector was invited to become King George I. In 1717, Handel's Water Music, one of his most famous works was performed in London to wide acclaim. For the rest of his life he made his career in Britain and became a naturalised British subject living in a house in Mayfair, London . His wrote works for special events, to honour aristocrats and for performances in the theatre at Covent Garden . In return his patrons subscribed to his company the Royal Academy of Music. In 1737 he suffered a stroke that threatened to halt his career before he made a fortunate recovery.

His prestige and fame prompted Cavendish's invitation to Dublin , where Messiah was performed based on scriptural text compiled from the King James Bible by Handel's collaborator Charles Jennens. The concert season were for charity in aid of local hospitals. All of its 259 pages were composed in twenty-four days between approximately 22 August and 14 September 1741.

Handel's career continued to go from strength to strength but old age and serious injuries as a result of a carriage accident took their toll. In 1751 he developed cataracts and was operated on by a quack doctor sadly causing the total loss of his vision. He died at Brook Street , London in 1759 at the age of 74. He was accorded full state honours during his funeral and burial at Westminister Abbey.

In the 18th century Dublin had been a fashionable European city but following the 1798 rebellion, the abolition of the Irish Parliament and the Act of Union in 1800, its glory days were no more. The rich and wealthy who had lived in its Georgian townhouses left for London before the city of Dublin fell into a downward spiral of dereliction. By the early 21st century only a single wall of the Great Music Hall remained. Meanwhile Handel's Messiah especially its climatic Alleluia Chorus remains a cultural classic, hugely popular with classic music enthusiasts and features strongly in a range of advertisements and popular motion pictures.

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