I don’t envy Royalty very often – I’ve never had a lust for power, and most of the job just looks tedious and stuffy to me.
But I would love to be able to say, “I’m going to be boating on the Thames – write some music for me to listen to, would you?” — and get George Frideric Handel’s Water Music played for me by an orchestra in a boat following mine while I relaxed, sipping wine and eating tempting dainties.
And 299 years ago, on July 17, 1717, King George I of England did take that cruise on the Thames, listening for the first time to this glorious music.
Happily — thanks to Thomas Edison and all the inventive people who came before and after him — in this modern age, we commoners can listen to Water Music played by the best musicians in the world at the push of a button, or a click on the keyboard:
Though written in a completely different context, Shakespeare’s words in Sonnet 29 do express my thanks for Handel’s great gift to all of us:
…Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remember’d such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.
- Akademie für alte Musik Berlin – Live concert HD:
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- Water Music — painting by Edouard Hamman