Fireworks Music

Fireworks Music

The Music for the Royal Fireworks (HWV 351) was composed by George Frideric Handel in 1749 under contract of George II of Great Britain for the fireworks in London's Green Park on 27 April 1749. It was to celebrate the end of the War of the Austrian Succession and the signing of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748.

The performing musicians were in a specially constructed building which had been designed by Servandoni, a theatre designer. The music provided a background for the royal fireworks. However, the display was not as successful as the music itself. The enormous wood building caught fire due after the collapse of a bas relief of George II. However, the music had been performed publicly six days earlier, on 21 April 1749 when there was a full rehearsal of the music at Vauxhall Gardens. Over twelve thousand people, each paying 2s 6d, rushed for it, causing a three-hour traffic jam of carriages, after the main route to the area south of the river was closed (the central arch of the newly built London Bridge had collapsed and had to be closed).The work was in five movements:

  1. "Overture": Adagio, Allegro, Lentement, Allegro
  2. "Bourrée"
  3. "La Paix": Largo alla siciliana
  4. "La Réjouissance": Allegro
  5. "Menuet I/II"

When published, Handel wished to present the work as an overture, but the Crown had it given the title "Music for the Royal Fireworks" as propaganda in favour of an otherwise unpopular Treaty and monarch. []


The only extant autograph manuscript is the latter adaptation. In addition to the contrabassoon, the manuscript calls for the serpent to double the bass line.

External links

* [ Score] (E-book) of "Fireworks Music" (ed. Friedrich Chrysander, Leipzig 1886)

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