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Wednesday 29 Oct 2014

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Wealth of performance, debate and talks on Radio 3 mark 250 years since Handel's death

  • Messiah broadcast live from Westminster Abbey on the anniversary of Handel's death
  • Specially recorded performance of the Eight Great Harpischord Suites
  • Discussion, debate and talks exploring Handel's professional and private life
  • Celebrated performance and landmark recordings of his works featured across the week
  • HandelBars in Breakfast seeks those best-loved moments from his prolific output

In the week of Handel's death (11-19 April), BBC Radio 3 features a raft of special programmes which create a rounded portrait of the composer as both man and musician.

This is part of Radio 3's Composers Of The Year 2009 marking the anniversaries of Purcell, Handel, Haydn and Mendelssohn.

Handel's music is at the heart of the celebrations across the week: highlights include a live broadcast from Westminster Abbey and specially-recorded performances from Handel's house in Brook Street and the Foundling Museum.

Reflecting the enduring appeal of this most popular composer, Radio 3's Breakfast invites listeners to nominate their favourite HandelBars – those moments in his music that are particularly well loved – and these will be broadcast over a two-week period from 6 April.

Placing the music in context, an extensive programme of talks and debate reveal aspects as diverse as Handel's personal and professional relationships, his sense of nationality and astute approach to his finances.

On 14 April, the date of his death, Radio 3 broadcasts Handel's Messiah from Westminster Abbey with James O'Donnell, the Choir of Westminster Abbey and period-instrument orchestra St James's Baroque.

Throughout this week, Performance On 3 features all-Handel programmes including concerts by the Orchestra Of The Age Of Enlightenment, Scottish Chamber Orchestra and English Concert, and the EBU Handel Day on 19 April showcases 12-hours of musical celebrations around the anniversary from across Europe.

Specially recorded for Radio 3 at the Handel House Museum, Laurence Cummings performs the composer's Eight Great Harpsichord Suites. These are broadcast following each weekday evening concert. Laurence also joins Catherine Bott on the Early Music Show to discuss Handel's work as both a virtuoso performer and composer for the keyboard.

Celebrated recordings of his music sit alongside special anniversary performances: CD Review's Building A Library reflects on the wealth of recordings available of Messiah and the Water Music; Afternoon On 3 continues its survey of the complete cycle of Handel's operas featuring Marc Minkowski's recording of Giulio Cesare; and, in Classical Collection, James Jolly appraises performances from the Forties, Fifties and Sixties of Handel's virtuosic Organ Concertos and his colourful Concerti Grossi.

Handel introduced the oratorio to Britain and in Composer Of The Week, Donald McLeod explores the key works from this genre which brought Handel such success including Esther, Messiah and Judas Maccabeus.

In Liquid Assets, the BBC's business correspondent Peter Day delves into Handel's finances and discovers that he was one of the most canny composers in all musical history. An astute investor, Handel managed to avoid being stung by the South Sea Bubble crisis in which overpriced stocks crashed in a credit bubble.

Sarah Walker explores Handel's London in a series of interval programmes: she focuses upon the 36 years he spent in Brook Street where he lived, rehearsed, performed and sold his music and also reflects upon his legacy as a philanthropist of the Foundling Hospital which holds a fascinating collection of his scores and memorabilia.

Words And Music features contemporary poetry, letters, reports and critics concerning Handel's leading ladies and castrati. Suzanne Aspden takes listeners on a tour of Handel's London and among the locations she visits are St George's Hanover Square (where the famous pleasure gardens hosted regular performances of his music) and the Queen's Theatre.

Writers and academics present a series of five talks in The Essay which illustrate the social and musical context in which Handel worked; Jonathan Keates explores his formative years in Italy and subsequent themes across the week's programmes investigate his working practices, relationship with literature and his librettists and his approach to nationality.

Performers and musicologists join Radio 3 presenters to debate Handel's legacy today. In Music Matters, Petroc Trelawny talks to some of today's leading opera directors about interpreting Handel for the 21st Century and, in the interval during Tuesday's live broadcast of Messiah, Richard Coles, Simon Heighes and Ruth Smith reflect upon the work with particular focus upon its text and performance history.

A special Private Passions marks the anniversary and Michael Berkeley looks back into the archive and recalls guests who have chosen works by Handel – among them Tom Wright, now Bishop of Durham; journalist Fergal Keane; writer Patrick Gale; cartoonist Posy Simmonds; and actor Dominic West.

Conductor Charles Hazlewood explores the development of British music through the lives, times and music of Handel in The Birth Of British Music, a major new four-part series to be shown on BBC Two in May 2009.

Radio 3's website around Composers Of The Year 2009 celebrates the anniversaries of Purcell, Handel, Mendelssohn and Haydn throughout the year. Listeners can read and comment on Suzanne Aspden's Handel blog and there is the opportunity to receive text updates of broadcasts and events around the anniversary celebrations.

Radio 3 listings:

Monday 6 April

  • Breakfast: HandelBars (7.00-10.00am)
    Listeners are invited to nominate their favourite excerpts of music by Handel. Highlights will be broadcast and discussed in programmes across the fortnight with the top 10 featured on Sunday 19 April

Saturday 11 April

  • CD Review: Building A Library (9.00am-12.15pm)
    Berta Joncus discusses recordings of Handel's Messiah

Sunday 12 April

  • Iain Burnside (10.00am-12.00noon)
    Iain will interview a renowned Handel performer on the programme
  • Private Passions (12.00noon-1.00pm)
    Michael Berkeley recalls nine guests who have chosen Handel pieces among their choices for Private Passions
  • Early Music Show : Laurence Cummings On The Keyboard Suites (1.00-2.00pm)
    Catherine Bott talks to the harpsichordist Laurence Cummings about Handel as both a virtuoso keyboard player, and composer
  • Radio 3 Requests (2.00-4.00pm)
    Chi-chi Nwanoku presents listeners requests with a special Handel focus
  • Choral Evensong (4.00-5.00pm)
    Live from St George's, Windsor. Including extracts from Messiah
  • Discovering Music (5.00-6.30pm)
    Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne
  • The Choir: Handel at Cannons and the Chandos Anthems (6.30-8.00pm)
    Aled Jones investigates Handel's time as Composer-in-residence at Cannons, the Edgware home of James Brydges, Earl of Carnarvon, where he produced his 11 Chandos Anthems
  • Sunday Feature: Liquid Asssets – Tracing Handel's Thousands (9.30-10.15pm)
    Peter Day, the BBC's Business Correspondent, delves into Handel's finances and his attitude to money and looks at the economics of early 18th Century London
  • Words And Music: Handel's Divas (10.15-11.30pm)
    Geraldine James and Michael Maloney read contemporary poetry, letters, reports and criticism concerning Handel's leading ladies and castrati

Monday 13 April

  • Classical Collection: Historical Handel (10.00am-12.00noon)
    Throughout the week, the programme will include an aria or chorus from Giulio Cesare and Messiah in addition to performances from the Forties, Fifties and Sixties of Handel's Organ Concertos and his colourful Concerti Grossi
  • Composer Of The Week: Handel And The Oratorio (12.00noon-1.00pm)
    Donald Macleod traces the beginning of Handel's relationship with the oratorio – a form with which he would forever be associated
  • Performance On 3 (7.00-9.15pm)
    Recorded at Wigmore Hall, London

    Handel: Concerto Grosso in D, Op 6 No 5
    Handel: Concerto Grosso in C minor, Op. 6 No. 8
    Telemann: Flute Concerto in D
    Handel: Dove sei from Rodelinda
    Cara sposa from Rinaldo
    L'Empio from Giulio Cesare
    Un zeffiro from Rodelinda
    Domero la tua fierezza from Giulio Cesare

    Daniel Taylor (countertenor)
    Rachel Brown (flute, recorder)
    Adrian Butterfield (violin, director)
    London Handel Orchestra
    Laurence Cummings performs selected Harpsichord Suites in a specially recorded performance made for Radio 3's Handel celebrations
  • Interval Feature
    Sarah Walker walks round Handel's birth place, Halle, and visits the house where he was born and the cathedral and the church in which he was baptised
  • The Essay: The Great And Good Mr Handel (11.00-11.15pm)
    Jonathan Keates looks at Handel's early years in Italy when, as a budding young 21-year-old, he acquired sophistication and finesse from the enchanted land beyond the Alps

Tuesday 14 April

  • Classical Collection: Historical Handel (10.00am-12.00noon)
  • Composer Of The Week: Handel and the Oratorio (12.00noon-1.00pm)
    Donald Macleod uncovers the story of Esther – the work with which Handel introduced oratorio to Britain, and the two English oratorios which followed – Deborah and Athalia
  • Performance On 3 (7.00pm)
    Broadcast live from Westminster Abbey

    Handel Messiah

    The Choir of Westminster Abbey
    St James's Baroque
    James O'Donnell, conductor
    Ailish Tynan, soprano
    Sarah Connolly, mezzo-soprano
    Paul Agnew, tenor
    Jonathan Lemalu, bass-baritone
  • Twenty Minutes: Examining Messiah
    Richard Coles, Simon Heighes and Ruth Smith discuss this seminal work of the classical music canon with special reference to the meaning of its text and performance history
  • The Essay: The Great and Good Mr Handel (11.00-11.15pm)
    Handel and Relationships – Ellen T Harris
    Harris explores some of Handel's relationships, social and professional

Wednesday 15 April

  • Classical Collection: Historical Handel (10.00am-12.00noon)
  • Composer Of The Week: Handel and the Oratorio (12.00noon-1.00pm)
    Handel's oratorios have become an indispensable part of musical life in Britain. Today, Donald Macleod continues his exploration of them including Messiah
  • Choral Evensong (4.00-5.00pm)
    Live from Ely Cathedral, Cambridge College Choirs
    Includes Handel's anthem: Let Thy Hand Be Strengthened
  • Performance On 3 (7.00-9.15pm)
    Handel Alexander's Feast

    Scottish Chamber Orchestra
    Richard Egarr, Conductor/harpsichord
    Lucy Crowe, Soprano
    Timothy Robinson, Tenor
    Christopher Purves, Bass baritone

    Laurence Cummings performs selected Harpsichord Suites in a specially-recorded performance made for Radio 3's Handel celebrations
  • Interval Feature
    Gerald Coke started collecting Handel scores and memorabilia years before it became fashionable. Sarah Walker walks round the exhibition at the Foundling Museum and talks to Katharine Hogg who manages the collection
  • Night Waves (9.15-10.00pm)
    Handel's compositions were littered with borrowings and copies from not only his own work, but other musicians as well. Night Waves asks if the twenty-first century arts, riven by arguments about intellectual property in the age of new technology, could learn something from Handel and his artistic peers
  • The Essay: The Great And Good Mr Handel (11.00-11.15pm)
    Handel's working practices – Donald Burrows
    Burrows asks what Handel's manuscripts tell us. He explores Handel's attitudes to his works, his very pragmatic approach to revising operas etc after the first performances and his attitude towards borrowing from other composers

Thursday 16 April

  • Classical Collection: Historical Handel (10.00am-12.00noon)
  • Composer Of The Week: Handel And The Oratorio (12.00noon-1.00pm)
    Judas Maccabaeus made an outright bid for popular appeal in Britain, inspired by the smashing of Stuart hopes the previous year with the defeat of the Young Pretender at Culloden by the Duke of Cumberland. Donald Macleod tells the story of the oratorio which was the most popular of them all during Handel's lifetime
  • Afternoon On 3: Giulio Cesare Part 1 (2.00-5.00pm)
  • Performance On 3 (7.00-9.15pm)

    Handel: Concerto Grosso op. 3 no. 2
    Handel: Cantata, Ah! Crudel nel pianto mio
    Handel: Serenata, Apollo e Dafne

    Alfredo Bernardini, Director/Oboe
    Nuria Rial, Soprano
    Fulvio Bettini, Bass
    English Concert

    Laurence Cummings performs selected Harpsichord Suites in a specially recorded performance made for Radio 3's Handel celebrations
  • Interval Feature
    Sarah Walker walks round the Foundling Museum and its exhibition and talks to Lars Tharp. This evening's concert of Handel cantatas was recorded in the main room at the museum where a fantastic portrait of Handel by Thomas Hudson is on display, on loan from the National Portrait Gallery
  • The Essay: The Great And Good Mr Handel (11.00-11.15pm)

  • Derek Alsop takes three works, Rodelinda, Saul and Jephtha, and explores ways in which Handel's reaction and response to the text was dramatic as well as illustrative. And he looks at some of the much-maligned librettitsts such as Chales Jennens and Thomas Morell

Friday 17 April

  • Composer Of The Week: Handel And The Oratorio (12.00noon-1.00pm) Donald Macleod concludes his chronological sweep through Handel's oratorios with a look at his last works in the form - Solomon, Theodora and Jephtha.
  • Afternoon On 3: Giulio Cesare Part 2 (2.00-5.00pm)
  • Performance On 3 (7.00-9.15pm)
    Recorded at St George's Hanover Square

    Handel Jephtha

    Laurence Cummings, conductor
    John Mark Ainsley, tenor
    Sarah Tynan, soprano
    Charlotte Hellekant, mezzo-soprano
    Rhona McKail, soprano
    Iestyn Davies, counter-tenor
    Derek Welton, baritone
    London Handel Singers
    London Handel Orchestra

    Laurence Cummings performs selected Harpsichord Suites in a specially recorded performance made for Radio 3's Handel celebrations
  • Interval Feature
    Sarah Walker walks round the Handel House Museum and its exhibition and talks to director Sarah Bardwell and deputy director Martin Wyatt.
  • The Essay: The Great And Good Mr Handel (11.00-11.15pm)
    Handel and nationality – Suzanne Aspden
    Handel was a musical chameleon with an uncanny ability to soak up the musical small-change around him and transform it into a mint of gold. The English saw Handel in their own image and adopted him as their own composer, despite his German birth and the significant, Italian meanderings of his youth. Suzanne Aspden explores Handel's view of Englishness

Saturday 18 April

  • Breakfast: HandelBars (7.00-10.00am)
  • CD Review: Building A Library (9.00am-12.15pm)
    Colin Lawson discusses the Water Music
  • Music Matters: Handel Now (12.15-1.00pm)
    Petroc Trelawny talks to some of today's leading opera directors about reinterpreting Handel for the 21st century, and the younger generation of performers reflect on how performance practice has changed over the last 25 years. Petroc also visits the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge to look at its holding of Handel manuscripts
  • Early Music Show (1.00-2.00pm)
    Richard Egarr on Handel's Chamber Music

Sunday 19 April

  • Breakfast: HandelBars (7.00-10.00am)
    Revealing the top 10 best-loved Handel "moments" as voted by listeners
  • EBU Handel Day (10.00am-12.00noon)
    This includes concerts from around Europe, including the Early Music Show chamber concert broadcast live from the Handel House Museum
  • Handel Calling Cards
    Interspersed throughout the day's concerts, Suzanne Aspden maps out her very own Handel tour through London

Notes to Editors

BBC Director-General, Mark Thompson, recently pledged a deeper commitment to arts and music on the BBC, with a range of initiatives aimed at supporting cultural Britain and better serving the public.

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