Monday, April 23rd, 2012...4:14 pm

Mr. Handel takes the Oaths

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Journals of the House of Lords, beginning anno decimo-tertio Georgii Regis, 1726. J301.J22 1731In a rare document recently added to the John Milton and Ruth Neils Ward Collection at the Harvard Theatre Collection, the long journey from youthful economic immigrant to established middle-aged citizen is traced in just a few lines of text.

A copy of the Journals of the House of Lords for 1726-1731, it announces that on February 14th, 1727, George Frideric Handel “took the Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy, in order to his Naturalization” as a British subject.

Handel was born Georg Friedrich Händel in Hanover, Germany in 1685 and first experimented with living in London at 25. By midlife he had already engaged in rituals familiar to those who seek their fortunes abroad: he learned the language of his new country as an adult, adopted an Anglicized spelling of his name, and achieved professional success through innovation, most famously by reinventing the genre of the oratorio as a public entertainment.

It is all but impossible to imagine musical life in the British Isles without Handel. His anthem Zadok the Priest has been performed at the coronation of every monarch since King George II in 1727. The oratorio Messiah, premiered in Dublin in 1742 and in London the following year, is a perennial favorite of professional and amateur choral societies: in last year’s Sing Hallelujah Project, the British Broadcasting Corporation and English National Opera recruited thousands of novice singers to sing the Hallelujah Chorus in over 450 local choirs.

(Harvard ID holders may access streaming audio of Zadok the Priest here, and of Messiah here.)

[Thanks to Christina Linklater, Project Music Cataloger, for contributing this post.]

Journals of the House of Lords, beginning anno decimo-tertio Georgii Regis, 1726. J301.J22 1731

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