Music for the Royal Fireworks, The (ed Mackerras)

From Wind Repertory Project
George Frideric Handel

George Frideric Handel (ed. Mackerras and Baines)

General Info

Year: 1749 / 1960
Duration: c. 15:00-20:00
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Oxford
Cost: Score and Parts - Rental


1. Overture - 12:51
2. Bouree - 1:41
3. La Paix - 4:05
4. La Rejouissance - 3:07
5. Minuet/Trio - 2:48


Full Score
C Piccolo (optional)
Flute I-II (optional)
Bassoon I-II
Contrabassoon (optional)
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III (optional)
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III
Trombone I-II-III (optional)
String Bass (optional)
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum (optional)
  • Snare Drum
  • Crash Cymbals (optional)

Strings (optional)


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Handel's Royal Fireworks Music was composed in 1749 for a mammoth festival proclaimed by King George II to celebrate the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle following the war of the Austrian succession. In the outdoor setting of Green Park a large wooden building was erected with broad wings and a huge musicians' gallery. On it were figures of Mars and Neptune, and above, a bas relief of King George handing Peace to Britannia. Amid the splendid setting, Handel's music was to be the feature attraction, followed by a tremendous display of fireworks. The performance of the music was accorded great acclaim and was followed by cannon and ordnance shots, but the fireworks proved fitful and erratic. In the grand finale the entire building was set on fire and burned to the ground, enraging the king whose image crumbled and fell in flames. Only Handel's reputation remained unscathed, fur the music brought a governorship and the lasting favor of the king.

Like the Water Music, the work was scored for a large wind band consisting of 40 trumpets, 20 French horns, 16 oboes, 16 bassoons, 8 pair of kettledrums, flutes, fifes, and a serpent. In this edition for the modern wind band, the work has been arranged in concerto grosso with small and large groups.

- Program Note from Program Notes for Band

Music for the Royal Fireworks was composed for a grand fireworks display that occurred during a peace celebration following the signing of the Treaty of Aixla-Chapelle, which marked the end of the War of the Austrian Succession. King George II tasked the celebrated composer George Friderich Handel with writing music for the occasion. Infrequently performed due to the size of the ensemble and its instrumentation, the work was originally scored for 9 trumpets, 9 horns, 24 oboes, 12 bassoons, and 3 timpani. The king insisted Handel write for percussion, brass, and winds only. He was partial to these “military” wind instruments, which were believed to carry sound outdoors much more efficiently than strings. Given the size of the ensemble and its high-profile premiere, Music for the Royal Fireworks was, without a doubt, one of the most significant compositions of wind music to date. The 12,000 people who flocked to the celebration and performance in Green Park in April 1749 caused a traffic jam that closed London Bridge for several hours. The music itself, taking the form of a Baroque dance suite in six movements, was well received.

- Program Note from Northwestern University Symphonic Wind Ensemble concert program, 9 June 2019


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • United States Marine Band (Washington, D.C.) (Jason K. Fettig, conductor) - 22 January 2023
  • Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Mallory Thompson, conductor) – 9 June 2019

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works


  • Daniels, D.; Oertel. D.W.; Rahbee, D.A. (2022). Daniels' Orchestral Music (6th edition). Rowman & Littlefield: Lanham, Md.
  • Heritage Encyclopedia of Band Music. "George Frederick Handel." Accessed 9 January 2015
  • Music for the Royal Fireworks. Wikipedia. Accessed 12 October 2022
  • Smith, Norman E. (2002). Program Notes for Band. Chicago: GIA Publications, pp. 268
  • Handel, G.; Baines, A.; Mackerras, C. (1960). The Music for the Royal Fireworks: For Wind Instruments or Wind and Strings [score]. Oxford University Press: London.