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Messiah at the Foundling Hospital

Drama documentary recreating the first performance of Handel's Messiah at London's Foundling Hospital in 1750, presented by Amanda Vickery and Tom Service.

Handel's Messiah is one of the most popular choral pieces in western music. It has been recorded hundreds of times and contains a tune that is as instantly recognisable as any in music. Yet few people know the extraordinary story of how this much-loved piece came to public attention - or how it helped save the lives of tens of thousands of children.

Historian Amanda Vickery and BBC Radio 3 presenter Tom Service present this one-hour drama documentary which recreates the first performance of Messiah at London's Foundling Hospital in 1750 and tells the heartrending story of how this special fundraising concert helped maintain the hospital and heralded a golden age of philanthropy.

Exploring historical documents and artefacts, Amanda examines the plight of women in Georgian London, particularly how the attitudes of the time led mothers to abandon their babies at the hospital. Tom looks at the momentous trials and tribulations faced by Handel in London and discovers how the composer became involved with the Foundling Hospital alongside another philanthropist of the day, the artist William Hogarth.

59 minutes

Last on

Sun 16 Apr 2017 19:00

Music Played

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • George Frideric Handel



Role Contributor
Presenter Amanda Vickery
Presenter Tom Service
Producer Rob Coldstream
Director Rob Coldstream
Executive Producer Liz Hartford
Executive Producer Ben Weston
Executive Producer Richard Farmbrough
Lady Somerset Francesca Bailey
Hester Nicola Bland
William Hogarth Christopher Staines


18th Century Season

18th Century Season

Meet the Georgians who forged modern Britain, across BBC Two, BBC Four and BBC Radio 3.