July 17, 1717: Handel’s Water Music is performed for the first time as part of a royal water party on the River Thames for King George I. For the original performance on a barge there were about fifty musicians. A report of the original concert indicated that there were a range of instruments including “des trompettes [trumpet], des cors de chasse [french horn], des haut bois [oboe], des bassons [basoon], des flutes allemandes [flute], des flutes françaises à bec [recorder], des violons et des basses [violin and bass], mais sans voix [no vocals].” (Friedrich Bonet) It is likely that the original performance was much shorter than the first publication in 1740. If you are unfamiliar with this phenomenal piece of Baroque music you should listen to the excerpt on the video at the bottom of this post.

July 17, 1955: Walt Disney opened Disneyland in Anaheim California. This event wouldn’t normally be selected for a “this day in…” post, but there is actually a connection between Disney and Handel’s Water Music. From 1977-1995 excerpts from the Water Music were used as part of the “Electrical Water Pageant” at Disney World, which speaks to the enduring popularity of Handel’s compositions.

 

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