Classical Fact

By some accounts, over twelve thousand citizens of London showed up to hear Handel's Music For the Royal Fireworks. Most of the city's streets were crowded to the point of being impassable, and that was just the rehearsal. The actual celebration, which marked end of the War of Austrian Succession, was a bit of a disappointment. Many of the fireworks failed to go off and a few of the ones that did light up the night sky also set fire to one of the pavilions built for the celebration. At first, Handel's composition was quite ambitious calling for, at least, sixteen each of trumpets and horns, making it suitable for an open-air performance. Handel ultimately pared-down his composition, using a slightly smaller ensemble. A second performance of the piece was given a month later, sans fireworks, at London's Foundling Hospital with a traditional combination of strings and winds - the version that is most often heard today.

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