Handel’s Water Music Back

A new display presents the story of Handel’s Water Music, commemorating the 300th anniversary of its first performance

Handel’s Water Music is a suite for orchestra composed for a party for King George I, held on the River Thames on 17 July 1717. The suite of twenty-two pieces so delighted the King that he requested that it be played three times during the evening, on his journey up the river from Lambeth to Chelsea, and back again in the early hours of the morning. This display uses manuscripts, printed music and artwork to explore the work’s popularity and the Georgian practice of water parties. At its centre is the earliest surviving source for the music, on loan from The Royal Society of Musicians, which was copied by two scribes close to Handel.