The Handel Institute
The Handel Institute

Chronology of George Frideric Handel's
Life, Compositions, and his Times

1760 and Beyond


Abbreviations used for locations:

CG : London, Covent Garden Theatre
DLT : London, Drury Lane Theatre
FHC : Foundling Hospital Chapel
KT : London, King's Theatre, Haymarket
LIF : Lincoln's Inn Fields
LTH: London, "Little Theatre" in the Haymarket
NMH: Dublin, Mr. Neal's Musick Hall (or the Great Music Hall), Fishamble Street
QT : London, Queen's Theatre, Haymarket
TaG : Theater am Gänsemarkt, Hamburg
WA : Westminster Abbey


  • 25 October : King George II dies. [Kensington Palace, London]
  • John Mainwaring's (ca. 1724-1807) biography of Handel, "Memoirs of the Life of the Late George Frederic Handel," is published anonymously. [London]  (NOTE: Facsimile reprints of the "Memoirs" are published in 1964 and 1975.)


  • The Opus 7 organ concertos are published by John Walsh, the younger.
  • Johann Mattheson (1681-1764) publishes an expanded translation of Mainwaring's Handel memoirs titled "Georg Friederich Händels Lebensbeschreibung".
  • (around this date) John Christopher Smith, the younger, composes Tobit, a pasticcio oratorio of Handel's works, with recitative by Smith. Thomas Morell is the librettist.


  • 15 July : Louis François Roubiliac's monument in memory of GFH is unveiled. It incorrectly lists his birthdate as "February XXIII, MDCLXXXIV" (NOTE: this spurious birthdate was miscalculated under the incorrect assumption that GFH was born under the old Julian calendar. Rather, at the time of his birth in Saxony/Magdeburg, the new Gregorian calendar was already in use). [WA]
  • Thomas Arne (1710-78) performs Alexander's Feast. John Stanley and John Christopher Smith, the younger, are both upset as they were already engaged in the performance of Handel's oratorios since his death. In retaliation they perform various Handel oratorios on the same nights as Arne's performances. Arne decides not to produce any more Handel oratorios.


  • John Christopher Smith, the elder (1683-), dies.


  • 16 March : John Christopher Smith, the younger, premieres Nabal, a pasticcio oratorio of Handel's opera arias and choruses from anthems and Latin psalms. Thomas Morell is the librettist. [CG]


  • John Walsh, the younger (1709-), dies.


  • 25 June : The composer (and GFH's friend) Georg Philipp Telemann dies from pneumonia (1681-). [Hamburg]


  • Earl Cowper promotes performances of Alexander's Feast and Messiah. [Florence] 


  • The composer John Stanley (1712-86) is elected a governor of the Foundling Hospital and from 1775 until 1777 he directed the annual performance of Messiah in aid of the hospital funds.
  • 16 January : A partial performance of Messiah takes place at George Burn's Music Room in the New York City Tavern. As reported by the 'New York Journal':

    "...A SACRED ORATORIO, on the Prophecies concerning CHRIST, and his Coming: being an Extract from the late Mr. Handel's Grand Oratorio, called the MESSIAH, consisting of the Ouverture, and sixteen other Pieces, viz, Airs, Recitatives, and Choruses. Never performed in America."


  • 21 May : Michael Arne conducts the first performance of Messiah in Germany. [Hamburg]


  • 20 November : Charles Jennens (1700-) dies. [Gopsall, Leicestershire; buried at Nether Whitacre, Warwicks]
  • Charles Jennens' music collection is bequeathed to the Earl of Aylesford. Later, the Earl's collection is referred to as the "Aylesford Collection".


  • 25 February : The English composer Samuel Arnold (1740-1802) presents Omnipotence, a pasticcio of Handel's works. [LTH]


  • Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach conducts Messiah [Hamburg]


  • The Concert of Antient Music forms. Joah Bates is the musical director. [London]


  • Wolfgang Mozart (21) attends Georg Vogler's rehearsal of Part I of Messiah [Mannheim]


  • The Baron van Swieten (1733-1803) persuades the Tonkünstler Sozietät to put on a considerably altered Judas Maccabaeus. The performance failed to raise significant funds for charity. [Vienna]


  • The Baron van Swieten holds regular informal meetings on Sundays at his library. Mozart becomes acquainted with the music of J.S. Bach and Handel. [Vienna]


  • 26 May - 5 June : Five concerts devoted to the music of GFH are directed by Joah Bates (1740-1799). Mistakenly, this festival is touted by its organizers as the "Handel Centennial Commemoration." (See 1762 note above.) It is sponsored by the aristocratic directors of the Concert of Antient Music. [WA]


  • 10 March : Samuel Arnold produces Redemption, a pasticcio of Handel's works. [CG]
  • Johann Adam Hiller (1728-1804) directs Messiah. Hiller is one of the first to update Handel's scoring to current musical tastes. [Berlin]


  • Samuel Arnold begins to publish his collected edition of GFH's works. He publishes the 180 part edition up through 1797.


  • November : Mozart arranges Acis and Galatea for Baron van Swieten's "Society of Associated Cavaliers". [Vienna]


  • 27 February : Samuel Arnolds produces The Triumph of Truth, a pasticcio from Handel's works and others. [DLT]
  • 6 March : Premiere of Mozart's arrangement of Messiah for the Society. [Palffy Palace, Vienna]


  • July : Mozart arranges Alexander's Feast and the Ode for Saint Cecilia's Day for the Society. [Vienna]


  • Handel Festival held. Frans Joseph Haydn attends. [WA]


  • The Academy of Ancient Music disbands. [London]


  • 3 October : John Christopher Smith (83; 1712-), the younger, dies. [Bath]


  • William Coxe's (1747 - 1828) "Anecdotes of George Frederick Handel and John Christopher Smith" is published by W. Bulmer and Company (London).  (NOTE 1: William Coxe is John Christopher Smith's stepson. NOTE 2: A facsimile reprint -- with an introduction by Percy M. Young -- is published in 1979.)


  • Wolfgang Mozart's arrangement of Messiah (with further additions by Hiller) is performed at Covent Garden. A critic from the Sun opines:

"we entertain a very high respect for the genius of Mozart, but we also hold the unrivaled powers of Handel in due reverence, and therefore must enter our protest against any such alterations in works that have obtained the sanction of time and of the best musical judges."


  • 1, 4, 6 April : Messiah (spread over several nights) is performed by The Handel & Haydn Society (Boston). On each successive night, one part of Messiah and the corresponding part of Haydn's Creation were performed.


  • Christmas Day: First American premiere of Messiah, complete, at a single performance -- by The Handel & Haydn Society. [Boylston Hall, Boston]


  • 8 July : The German musicologist Karl Franz Friedrich Chrysander (-1901) is born. [Lübtheen, Mecklenburg]


  • The English Handel Society, the first Handelian publishing society, is founded by Sir George Macfarren (1813-87) 'for the production of a superior and standard edition of the works of Handel' (according to its prospectus). [London]


  • The English Handel Society folds. [London]


  • Victor Schoelcher (1804-93), the French writer and politician, is exiled. He spends the next 18 years in England where his fascination with Handel is born.


  • The Handel & Haydn Society begins to perform Messiah annually during the Christmas season. [Boston]


  • The Deutsche Händel-Gesellschaft is founded by Chrysander and the literary historian Gottfried Gervinus (1805–71) for the publication of a critical and uniform edition of the whole of Handel's works. Friedrich Chrysander is the sole active editor. [Leipzig]


  • 15, 17, 19 June : The "Great Handel Festival" or "Trial Festival", organized by The Sacred Harmonic Society, is held. A choir of approx. 2000 singers and an orchestra of 500 instrumentalists under the direction of Sir Michael Costa performed Messiah, Judas Maccabaeus, and Israel in Egypt.  [Crystal Palace, Sydenham, London]
  • Victor Schoelcher's book "The Life of Handel" is published. It is written by Schoelcher in French; James Lowe translates it into English. This is the first Handel biography to be based upon solid documentary research. In writing the book, Schoelcher assembles a vast collection of Handelian literature, music, and portraits.


  • October : Chrysander and Max Seiffert, editors, publish the first volume of a critical edition of Handel's works: G.F. Händel's Werke: Ausgabe der Deutschen Händelgesellschaft (referred to elsewhere with the initials "HG"); this volume contains Susanna.


  • June : The Handel Commemoration ("Second Grand Handel Festival") is held. A choir of 2765 singers and an orchestra of 460 instrumentalists under the direction of Sir Michael Costa performed Messiah, Israel in Egypt, and other selections. Following this performance, Handel festivals are held triennially until 1926. [Crystal Palace, Sydenham, London]


  • The Deutsche Händel-Gesellschaft folds. Friedrich Chrysander takes over the production of the editions himself, though retaining the society's name.
  • Chrysander publishes second volume of Handel's works.


  • The "Great Triennial Handel Festival" is held. [Crystal Palace, Sydenham, London]


  • Friedrich Chrysander begins to print and distribute the edition on his own in small printing shop in his garden. He never completes publication of his critical edition of Handel's works. [Bergedorf, near Hamburg]


  • Chrysander publishes third volume of Handel's works.


  • Victor Schoelcher's Handelian collection, known as the "Fonds  Schoelcher", is donated to the Paris Conservatoire in three stages; it is now located with the Bibliothèque Nationale.


  • George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), Irish dramatist, novelist, and critic, comments in a review of a performance of Messiah :

"Why, instead of wasting huge sums on the multitudinous dullness of a Handel Festival does not somebody set up a thoroughly rehearsed and exhaustively studied performance of the Messiah in St James's Hall with a chorus of twenty capable artists? Most of us would be glad to hear the work seriously performed once before we die."


  • The Handel Society is formed; it is an amateur choral and orchestral society to revive his less well-known oratorios, as well as other choral music. [London]


  • Handel Bicentennary is held.


  • 3 September: Chrysander dies. [Bergedorf, near Hamburg]


  • Richard A. Streatfield's (1866-1919) biography "Handel" is published; it is reprinted in 1964.
  • Romain Rolland's (1866-1944) biography "Haendel" is pubished in French; it is translated into English in 1916.


  • 26 June : Oskar Hagan, an art history teacher at the University of Göttingen, stages Rodelinda -- the first staging of a Handel opera since 1754. This lead to the birth of the annual Göttingen Händel Festival. [Stadttheater, Göttingen]


  • Sir Walter Newman Flower's (1879-1964) biography "George Frideric Handel: his Personality and his Times" is published. (A second edition is published in 1947.)


  • The Neue Händel-Gesellschaft is founded on the German musicologist Arnold Schering's initiative. The society publishes a Händel-Jahrbuch (1928-33, ed. R. Steglich), the Hallische-Händel-Ausgabe (HHA; performing editions of Handel's works), and organizes a number of festivals. [Leipzig]


  • The Göttinger Händel-Gesellschaft is formed.


  • Willam Charles Smith (1881-1972), English musical librarian and biographyer, begins to assemble a personal collection of Handel material. This collection eventually contained over 200 early Handel editions and manuscripts.


  • Erich H. Mühler's "The Letters and Writings of Georg Frideric Handel" is published.


  • The Handel Society folds. [London]


  • The Deal and Walmer Handelian Society is founded by the Handel scholar James S. Hall (1899-1975); its purpose is principally to give performances of the choral works.


  • Percy M. Young's (1912-) biography "Handel" is published. It is republished three times -- the last time in 1979.


  • William C. Smith's "Concerning Handel" is published.
  • Percy M. Young's "The Oratorios of Handel" is published.


  • The Händelfestspiele Halle (Halle Handel Festival) begins.


  • "Handel: A Symposium" is published; Gerald Abraham, editor.


  • A new society, the Georg-Friedrich-Händel-Gesellschaft (GFHG), is founded for the publication of a new collected edition, known as the Hallische Händel-Ausgabe (Halle Handel Edition; referred to elsewhere with the initials: "HHA"). Originally, the intent of the edition is to supplement Chrysander's editions; however, in 1958 it is announced that a full critical edition will be produced. The GFHG also supports the annual Handel festivals and begins to publish the annual Händel-Jahrbuch. [Halle]
  • With the encouragement of Edward J. Dent, the Handel Opera Society is founded; its purpose is for "reviving public interest in professional stage performances of Handel's dramatic works" (operas and oratorios). In total, 28 works were staged. Music director (until 1985): Charles Farncombe. Modern instruments and harpsichord are employed. [London]
  • Otto Erich Deutsch's (1883-1967) "Handel: a Documentary Biography" is published in English; it is reprinted in 1974. A German translation, volume 4 of the Händel-Handbuch, is published in 1985. (NOTE: In volume 4, some information from Deutsch's reference is deleted and some new information is included.)


  • The Danish musicologist Jens Peter Larsen's (1902-88) "Handel's Messiah: Origins, Composition, Sources" is published; a second edition is published in 1972.


  • Winton Dean's (1916-) "Handel's Dramatic Oratorios and Masques" is published by Oxford University Press.


  • William C. Smith's "Handel: a Descriptive Catalogue of the Early Editions" is published. (A second edition is published in 1970.)
  • The German musicologist Rudolf Steglich's (1886-1976) biography "Georg Friedrich Handel" is published.


  • Gerald Coke purchases William C. Smith's Handel collection. Coke incorporates this collection with his own at Bentley, Hampshire. (See 1934.)


  • William C. Smith's "A Handelian's Notebook" is published.
  • The Henry Watson Library, Manchester, acquires Sir Walter Newman Flower's extensive Handel collection (which includes the bulk of the Aylesford Manuscripts.)


  • The American musicologist Paul Henry Lang's (1901-91) biography "George Frideric Handel" is published.


  • Winton Dean's "Handel and the Opera Seria" is published by the University of California Press; it is republished in London in 1970..


  • Princeton University purchases the James S. Hall Handel collection.


  • The "Handel Opera Society" is renamed "Handel Opera".


  • The "London Handel Festival" is founded by Denys Darlow.
  • The Hallische Händel-Ausgabe publishes the first volume of the Händel Handbuch. Volumes 1-3 contain the Thematisch-systematisches Verzeichnis prepared by Bernd Baselt (1934-93). Handel's works are organized by HWV numbers.) Volume 4, Dukemente zu Leben und Schaffen, a German translation of Otto Deutsch's "Handel: a Documentary Biography," is published in 1985. (See 1955 above.)


  • John Eliot Gardiner (1943-) becomes the artistic director of the Göttingen Handel Festival.



  • The Göttinger Händel-Gesellschaft begins to publish the Göttinger Händel-Beiträge (Editor: Hans Joachim Marx; 1935-), an annual journal.
  • Christopher Hogwood's (1941-) biography "Handel" is published by Thames & Hudson; it includes a chronological table by Anthony Hicks.


  • The Handel Opera Society closes following its production of Rodrigo. [London]
  • Jonathan Keates' biography "Handel: the Man and his Music" is published.
  • 8 November - 23 February 1986 : The National Portrait Gallery, London, holds an exhibition, "Handel: A Celebration of his Life and Times". A book to accompany the exhibition is published (edited by Jacob Simon).



  • Winton Dean and J. Merrill Knapp's (1914-93) "Handel's Operas 1704-1726" is published by Oxford University Press; it is revised in 1994.
  • The "Handel Tercentenary Collection" (edited by Stanley Sadies and Anthony Hicks) is published.
  • The Handel Institute (of Great Britain) is established. [London]


  • Nicholas McGegan (1950-) becomes the artistic director of Göttingen Handel Festival, replacing John Eliot Gardiner.


  • Donald Burrows' biography "Handel" is published.
  • Hampshire Record Office receives the papers (letters) of the Harris family, the Earls of Malmesbury. These become known as the "Malmesbury Papers". A significant number of James Harris' letters pertain to Handel.


  • "The Cambridge Companion to Handel" is published by Cambridge University Press; Donald Burrows, editor.

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