Letter from George Frideric Handel

Contributed by Handel House Museum

Letter from George Frideric Handel

The composer George Frideric Handel wrote this letter to his friend and librettist Charles Jennens on 19th July 1744. It was written about a year after the London premiere of Handel's great oratorio 'Messiah', for which Jennens had supplied the libretto. Jennens had been unhappy with some of the music Handel had written for his words, and in this letter Handel asks him to identify his objections.

The letter chiefly concerns their new work 'Belshazzar'. Jennens had sent Handel the first act and it had fired the composer's creative impulses. He asks Jennens to send him the other two acts urgently.

Having received the complete libretto Handel realised that it would take too long to perform if he set it all to music, so he made a number of cuts. The first performance took place at the King's Theatre in the Haymarket, London on 27th March 1745.

Perhaps hoping to humour Jennens after his disappointment with 'Messiah', Handel does much in this letter to appear favourable to his librettist. It appears that, as an afterthought, he squeezes the words 'with greatest respect' into the last line, and adds 'most humble' to his signature.

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Brook Street, Mayfair

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1744

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