How did people party in the 1700s? By going to hear Handel’s music performed live, complete with fireworks. That’s what they did in 1749.


It was the end of the War of the Austrian Succession and King George II wanted to celebrate. When the king celebrates, everyone celebrates, and Handel writes the music. They had a fireworks show scheduled, but they needed some celebratory music, so who are they to pick but Handel himself?

But first they held a full rehearsal that people could attend. It was THE event of the year. You know when there’s a big event going on in your city of town, the traffic is terrible, you can’t get anywhere. This is how it was for this rehearsal. Except it was carriages instead of cars. They did not have a six lane freeway going over the London Bridge, there was no alternate route. Thousands of people attended this rehearsal, and they had a better experience than those who attended the actual concert.

Bad things can happen when you get fireworks too close to buildings. They catch on fire. So they had this party music all ready, then it rained and during the concert the right pavilion caught on fire.

Moral of the story: Be careful with fireworks (remember this on New Year’s Eve)

Let’s listen to the music now. It sounds very royal, like the king is arriving or going by in a procession and you gotta stand up. The tempo (speed) and royalty sound of it is why some people use it for weddings when the wedding party or bride walks in. This tells you something important is happening or someone important is coming (like graduations also use music to present the graduates).

The Overture is an introduction to the Music for the Royal Fireworks, which has 5 movements. This movement gets the people excited and ready for the fireworks show. You can’t just have fireworks without epic music. The procession-like part starts out the fireworks music, indicating that people need to find their seats real quick. You can’t have royal music without trumpets either. Trumpets pretty much announce that someone important is coming.

After two and a half minutes, you better have found your seat because this concert is underway. The music picks up and the party has started, even the fireworks are happy (02:51). The big fireworks come out amongst the oooohs and ahhhs of the audience (imagining a live concert).

Thanks to YouTube, you can now enjoy Handel + fireworks in the safety of your own home, without having to call the fire department.


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