The Handel Experience

A concert program by Scaramuccia tailored for the competition of the Göttingen Historical Music Series 2016

Works by Handel, Veracini, Geminiani, Vivaldi, Telemann and Jimi Hendrix

Forces: 2 violins, violoncello and harpsichord

“Etwas Besseres kann einem Konzertpublikum nicht passieren”

“Nothing better can happen to an audience”

Jens Wortmann, Kulturbüro Göttingen (Germany)

Program Notes

The Handel Experience will offer a journey through the life of Handel: the people he met, the places he visited and the music he listened to; all connected make a web of characters and relationships where the central character is Handel and the music.

It is the year 1706 and we find a 29 years old Handel in his first travel to Italy. There Handel will meet with some of the greatest Italian composers of the baroque. In Roma, he met with the great Corelli, and maybe Handel took some lessons from him. Corelli was one of the most influential composers of his time, for instance, his Op. V and his trio sonatas were used as a model of composition during a big part of the 18th century. By these years Vivaldi composed his Trio Sonata “La Follia” taking as a model the Follia contained in Corelli’s Op. V. It was around 1706 when Handel surely listens to Vivaldi in Venezia, it is not a coincidence that Handel will use some vivaldian material in his Laudate Pueri, premiered just one year later.

Some years after, in 1719, Handel will visit Dresden. There he met with his old friend Telemann (Handel met Telemann in Halle in 1701 for the first time, since then they became close friends), who introduced Handel to Pisendel, the leader of the Dresden orchestra, and ex-student and close friend of Vivaldi. There are no records of previous encounters of Pisendel and Handel but it is known that Pisendel was in Italy studying with Vivaldi and other Italian composers; when Pisendel arrived in Dresden he brought with him a lot of scores copied in Italy. Among these scores we find the Sinfonia in B flat major HWV 339 by Handel. This means that Pisendel copied the work from an Italian source, maybe left by Handel in his first travel to Italy. Pisendel also made an extra copy of the parts of the Sinfonia in a trio sonata setting, the parts were copied in Dresden and are meant for the performance. In these parts we can find annotations for the improvisation by Pisendel, an invaluable record of a live performance of hundreds of years ago.

Another Italian manuscript found in Dresden contains the Trio Sonata TWV 42:A9 by Telemann. Telemann and Handel were close friends all their lives since their first encounter in Halle in 1701. Handel borrowed musical material from Telemann. Some cases are well known, like how Handel used more than forty musical themes from the Tafelmusik by Telemann. In this case, we can listen to the theme of the famous Cuckoo Concerto by Handel (published years after this sonata) at the beginning of the trio sonata. Since the manuscript was brought from Italy by Pisendel it is a mystery if Handel listened to this theme in Italy or during his visit to Dresden.

Another student of Corelli was also in Dresden when Handel was there:  Francesco Maria Veracini. The story of Veracini is quite interesting, he was known for his peculiar and eccentric personality. Veracini was in contact with Handel in previous years when Veracini visited London. In 1717 Veracini obtained a position in Dresden, so surely he met Handel again during his visit in 1719. Unfortunately for Veracini, his life in Dresden was not very easy: In 1722 Veracini jumped from a third floor and injured himself for the rest of his life, it is not clear if it was a suicide attempt or a bungled murder by Pisendel and other members of the orchestra; after this event Veracini travelled again to London and became the chief rival of Handel’s theater.

In 1742 Veracini published in London his Sonate Accademiche; the Sonata Accademica IX includes the Scottish air “Tweed Side”, this folk song is contained also in the The Caledonian Pocket Companion, a compilation by James Oswald published also in London and just two years after, other of the pieces of this book, Pioberachd Mhie Dhonuil, could be a good prelude to Veracini’s work since both belong to the same place and time.

Veracini’s work and Scottish music will link perfectly to other of our connections with Handel: Another ex-student of Corelli, Geminiani, also lived in London, in this case he became a very good friend of Handel and they performed together, with Handel at the harpsichord. Geminiani published in 1749 A Treatise of Good Taste in the Art of Musick; in order to show how to play with good taste he used Irish and Scottish melodies. Just two years earlier, in 1747 Handel played in Dublin and left in his scrapbook the beautiful Irish melody: Der arme Irische Junge (The Poor Irish Lad). Still today is a mystery whether Handel transcribed this melody or it was composed by himself. It is striking how these three musicians: Handel, Geminiani and Veracini came finally together in the same years and place with Irish and Scottish folk music.

It was around 1722 (the same year when Veracini jumped from a window in Dresden) when Handel moved to a house that today is the Handel Museum. Between 1968 and 1969 this very same house became the only officially recognised Jimi Hendrix residence in the world. After Hendrix learned of the Handel connection with the building he headed to One Stop Records in South Molton Street and HMV in Oxford Street to pick up whichever records of Handel music he could find.  Purple Haze was released as the second record single by The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

The Music

Georg Frideric Handel

Sarabande from Suite HWV 437 (1732)

Antonio Lucio Vivaldi

Trio sonata RV 63, Op.1 No.12, Follia  (1705)

Georg Frideric Handel

Sinfonia in B flat major HWV 339 (1707)

Georg Philipp Telemann

Trio sonata TWV 42:A9 (1717)

James Oswald

Pioberachd Mhie Dhonuil from The Caledonian Pocket Companion Vol. XII (ca. 1750)

Francesco Maria Veracini

Sonate Accademiche in A, Op. 2 N. 9 (1742)

Francesco Xaverio Geminiani

Trio sonata “Last time I come over the moor” from A Treatise of Good Taste in the Art of Musick (1749)

Georg Frideric Handel (Arr. Javier Lupiáñez)

Der arme Irische Junge (The Poor Irish Lad) (1747)

Jimi Hendrix (Arr. Javier Lupiáñez)

Purple Haze (1967)


“Etwas Besseres kann einem Konzertpublikum nicht passieren” Jens Wortmann, Kulturbüro Göttingen (Germany)

“Hendrix auf dem Cembalo. Göttinger Reihe Historischer Musik” Theodoro da Silva, Goettinger Tageblatt (Germany)