Music for the Royal Fireworks (ed Hindsley)

From Wind Repertory Project
George Frideric Handel

George Frideric Handel (rescored Mark Hindsley)

General Info

Year: 1749 / 197-?
Duration: c. 15:00
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Hindsley Transcriptions, through C.L. Barnhouse
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $95.00   |   Score Only (print) - $24.00


1. Overture
2. The Peace
3. The Rejoicing
4. Bouree
5. Menuet


Full Score
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II (II doubling English horn)
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Contrabass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Cornets I-II
B-flat Trumpet I-II
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II
Bass Trombone
String Bass
Percussion, including:

  • Snare Drum


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

Handel's wonderfully sonorous and stately Royal Fireworks Music was written in 1749 for a mammoth festival celebration the return of peace to all Europe following the war of the Austrian succession, which was concluded by the Peace of Ail-la-Chapelle. Handel was composer to the Chapel Royal under King George II, and this music was commanded to be for "warlike instruments" alone.

Historians have listed the original performing instrumentation as follows: 16 oboes, 16 bassoon, fifes, flutes, 40 trumpets, 2 horns, serpents, 8 pairs of kettledrums, 101 cannon, 18 pieces of ordnance. The overture was followed by the cannonading salute, and the succeeding sections were accompanied by appropriate pyrotechnic set-pieces which "dazzlingly banished the darkness, while aloft the replica of the sun blazed out over all London."

It is recorded also that the original performance ended in complete catastrophe, with sputtering fireworks fanned by fresh winds igniting all structures within reach. With such a beginning, this extraordinarily famous "original band music" has survived on its own inherent merits and by its continuous rewriting and refinement for bands and orchestras.

- Program Note from score


State Ratings

  • Florida: V
  • Kansas: V
  • Louisiana: V
  • Michigan: Senior High AA
  • South Carolina: IV
  • Tennessee: IV
  • Virginia: V


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

Works for Winds by this Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works


  • Handel, G.; Hindsley, M. (1980-1987). Music for the Royal Fireworks [score]. Hindsley Transcriptions: Urbana, Ill.
  • Music for the Royal Fireworks. Wikipedia. Accessed 12 October 2022
  • Perusal score
  • Smith, Norman E. (2002). Program Notes for Band. Chicago: GIA Publications, pp. 268.