Music for the Royal Fireworks (ed Leenhouts)

From Wind Repertory Project
George Frideric Handel

George Frideric Handel (ed. Paul Leenhouts)

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This work bears the designation HWV 351.

General Info

Year: 1749 / 2021
Duration: c. 21:03
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra
Publisher: Unknown
Cost: Score and Parts - Unknown


1. Overture – 2:20
2. Bouree – 6:15
3. La Paix – 2:15
4. La Rejouissance – 3:05
5. Menuet II – 3:45
6. Menuet I – 2:10


Full Score
Solo Oboe I-II
Solo Bassoon I-II
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
String Bass
Percussion (1)

(percussion detail desired)


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Music for the Royal Fireworks (1749) was written in the style of a French overture suite. The instrumentation was inspired by Lully who led the Le Grand Ecurie of Louis XIV’s court. The music Handel composed for a lavish fireworks display in 1749 was perhaps his greatest public success in London.

King George II was a great admirer of Handel’s music and he turned to Handel to write the official music for an elaborate outdoor celebration of the peace of Aix-la-Chappelle, the treaty that brought a temporary end to the War of Austrian Succession. Handel agreed at once, and although he disapproved of the king’s edict that there should be no “fiddles”, he complied.

Handel also had argued against the idea of a public rehearsal, although it turned out to be one of his greatest triumphs. The run-through (without fireworks), held in the Spring Gardens at Vauxhall, drew a crowd of 12,000 and caused one of London’s first traffic jams. (“So great a resort occasioned such a stoppage on London Bridge that no carriage could pass for three hours,” The Gentlemen’s Magazine reported.)

The official event itself, held in Green Park the following week, was less than a complete success, despite the brilliance of Handel’s score and the participation of a blockbuster orchestra that featured some sixty wind instruments. Following the overture, a salute of 101 brass cannons launched the fireworks display, which first lit up the sky and then set fire to a lavish Palladian pavilion, more than 100 feet long and 114 feet high, that was created especially for the festivities by Chevalier Servandoni, scenic designer to the French court. “What contributed to the awkwardness of the whole,” a London reporter later wrote, “was the right pavilion catching fire and being burnt down in the middle of the show.” (Servandoni, the scenic designer, was later arrested for drawing his sword on the comptroller of fireworks.) Spectacle and disaster overshadowed one of Handel’s greatest works.

- Program Note excerpted from Phillip Huscher for Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert program

This version was graciously provided by Dr. Paul Leenhouts. Dr. Leenhouts is the director of early music studies and the baroque orchestra at the University of North Texas. His new edition of Music for the Royal Fireworks realizes and reflects the ornamental practices of the period.

- Program Note from University of North Texas Wind Symphony concert program, 23 September 2021


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State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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