Summer-Autumn 1760


[The Fourth Earl of Shaftesbury’s Memoirs of Handel]





































































In this Spring

(1732) a 4th.

Annl. Subscripn.

was set on foot

for the ensuing

Season, upon

the same terms;

but the Subsn.

for the 50 Operas

for this Season,

having been all

performed about

the end of May,

the Town being

yet very full,

Mr. H: perform’d

in the Hay

Market the

Masque of

Acis & Galatea;

This was perfd.

in Italian &

some additional

Songs were

thrown into it,

& the Stage was

disposed in a

pretty Manner.

It had happened

that the preceding

Season, only 49

Opera’s had been

perform’d instead

of 50 Subscribed

for, so that the

Subscribers Tickets

of last Year

were admitted

to this Per

formance, as

(London Chronicle [June 14-17, 1760] Page 579. &c)


The method of this Subscription [“Academy of Music”] was, for each

Subscriber to sign a Bond for £200, which Sum

was to answer, all calls that might be made, upon

the Subscribers for Expences in carrying on the Opera’s

exceeding the Sums collected each night at the House:

And a sett of Directors were Elected, for carrying on

the Affairs of the Academy; which was Incorporated

by a Charter. The Directors were for the most part

Persons of Distinction.

Quaere What is mean’t by Handell’s Association?

As he was only employed as a Composer, in the same

way as Buononcini. “Was put in Possession of the

House”. Here is a mistake again, the House being

in Possession of the Academy.

In this Opera of Muzio Scaevolo, there were three

Composers vizt. Handell, Buononcini, and (Quaere)

Peebo? [Pippo.] “And Handell was chief Composer for almost

nine years”. “Handell and Senesino Quarrell’d”

here is another great mistake. [425v]

In the year 1727. Violent Parties were formed,

between the 2 famous Singers, Faustini & Cuzzoni;

and in the Election for Directors, Faustini’s Party

carried it. These Animosities were very prejudicial

to the Interest of the Academy, and the Houses

began to grow thinner upon it. The Beggar’s Opera

appearing soon after, gave such a Turn to the Town,

that Opera’s were generally neglected: And as their

Expences were great, and their Receipts small, the

Sums Subscribed for was determined in the

Summer 1728: And tho’ the Terms of the Charter

was then unexpired, yet the Fund for maintaining

Opera’s being exhausted, they ceased of course,

and the Singers left England. This is the real

Cause of the discontinuance of Opera’s at that time.

In the Spring 1729 a fresh Subscription was

set on foot for performing Opera’s, under the

Patronage of The Princess Royal. Fifty Opera’s

were engaged to be performed, for a Subscription of

15 Guineas a Ticket; and they were to be under [425r]

the Direction of Mr. Heidegger, and Mr. Handell,

who were joint Partners in the Thing and their

Partnership was for 5 Years. To Execute this Scheme,

Mr. Handell went to Italy, where he hired

Strada, Bernachi &ca.. When at Rome Mr.

Handell waited on his old Friend, Cardinal Ottoboni;

who received him with the greatest marks of

Friendship and Esteem.

“Rais’d a Subscription against him”. Here is another

strange mistake in regard to the time. For in

performing the Opera’s in the Summer Winter 1729, which

began with that of Lotharius; the Town received

them very favourably, and [deleted word] in the Spring

following, a 2d. Annual Subscription, was set on

foot upon the same Terms with the former;

but the Town having express’d a Desire of having

Senesino, Mr. Handell hired him in the room of

Bernachi. They open’d with the Opera of Scipio,

and Senesino at his first appearing on the Stage,

was received with the greatest Applause. [426l]

It was in the Spring (1732) that Mr. Handell

first performed the Oratorio of Esther in Publick,

to which he made considerable Additions.

O [with a cross in the center]

+ In the Spring 1733. Mr. Handell finding, that

the Oratorio of Esther, had been well received, the

Oratorio of Deborah, which he had just finished

for his own Benefit, and not to be reckoned into

the number of the 50 Opera’s Subscribed for, and

as he had taken great Pains, and as this was a

new kind of Musick attended with some Extraordinary

Expence, and more over for his own Benefit, he

took double Prices, Vizt. a Guinea for Pit & Box’s.

This Indiscreet Step disgusted the Town, and he had

a very thin House; however the great Merit of

the Piece prevail’d, so far, that it had a considerable

run, and was received with great Applause.

About this time, a misunderstanding happen’d,

between Mr. Handell and Senesino, and some of

the other Singers; whose Party being very numerous,

taking advantage moreover of the Disgust Mr. Handell [426r]

were the Subsrs. themselves. This Entertainment was performed at least twice which in reality was to

the Subscribers of this Year a present of 2 Performances gratis. [426r]

And in this

Spring it was

that Mr. H:

perform’d the

Oratorio of Esther

in Publick,

to which he made




N: B.



at Oxford


a <...>




He perform’d

his Oratorio

of Deborah

again a few

times this


































And from

this time,

there was

never any

Contests between

Mr. H: and

any Sett of





had given to the Town (in taking a Guinea for his

Benefit Subscription) a Subscription was raised for

carrying on Opera’s in Lincoln’s-Inn-Ffields; and

where Senesino was to have the principal part; and

Porpora was the Composer. What help’d to disgust

the Town was, Mr. Handell’s putting his Benefit

upon an Opera Day. Mr. Handell’s Subscription

in the Hay Market was a very small one; and

tho’ he had hired the famous Carastini, Strada,

and some other good Singers; his Houses were

generally very thin, ’till the Opera of Ariadne

was exhibited, which gained him several full

Houses. At the end of this Season the 5 Years

Partnership with Mr. Heidegger being determin’d,

the Hay Market House was lett to the Gentlemen,

who had carried on the Opera’s in Lincoln’s Inn

Fields: And Mr. Handell associated himself

with Mr. Rich to carry on Opera’s in Covent

Garden. [427v]

His Performers were the same as at the Hay

Market the preceding Season, but his Antagonists,

had not only the advantage in getting the Hay

Market House; but had besides the benefit of the

famous Farinelli, so that they carried away the

Town, for they had great immense Houses, when Mr.

Handell’s were very empty. The Opera of Alcino

which he performed, gave some turn in his favour, and

a little recovered his losses; however he desisted for

that time, from Solliciting any farther Subscriptions[.]

The Year after Vizt. (1735/6) Mr. Handell

performed his celebrated Composition of Alexander’s

Feast, and a few times afterwards his Opera of Attalanto,

Encouraged by the Success he met with this Year, he,

in Partnership with Mr. Rich, set forward a fresh

Subscription for Opera’s for the ensuing Season, and

in that, tho’ he had several Capital Singers, and

Exhibited such a Variety of Excellent New Opera’s,

Vizt. Arminius, Justin, Berenice, and the

Il Trionpho del Tempo, he met with no Success. [427r]

Great fatigue and disappointment, affected him so

much, that he was this Spring (1737) struck with the

Palsy, which took entirely away, the use of 4 fingers

of his right hand; and totally disabled him from

Playing: And when the heats of the Summer 1737

came on, the Disorder seemed at times to affect

his Understanding. His Circumstances being in a

manner ruined, he entered into an Agreement to

Compose, for the Gentlemen at the Hay Market,

and by the advice of his Physicians went to the

Baths of Aix-la-Chapelle.

These Baths had an amazing effect upon

him, for in a few times using them, the use of

his fingers was restor’d to him; his Spirits grew

Calm, and he was able to perform upon the

Harpsicord. His recovery was so compleat, that

in his Return from thence to England, he was

able to Play long Voluntaries upon the Organ.

In one of the great Towns in Flanders, where

he had asked Permission to Play, the Organist [428v]

attended him, not knowing who he was; and

seem’d Struck with Mr. Handell’s Playing

when he began: But when he heard Mr. Handell

lead off a Feuge, in Astonishment he ran up to

him, & embracing him, said “You can be no other

but the great Handell”.

Very soon after Mr. Handell’s arrival in

England, her late Majesty Queen Caroline Died.

The King’s Composer (or some one else) was directed

to Compose an Anthem, but the thing requiring

haste; and The King being willing, this should

be Executed in the best manner, an Intimation

was given to Mr. Handell that he should Compose

it, and this he immediatly set to Work upon, and

in 8 Days time finish’d that Inimitable Piece

of Harmony. The King was so well satisfied

with his Work, that, He, honour’d him with

a gracious message expressing his His Satisfaction.

This Winter (1737/8.) Mr. Handell Composed

for the Gentlemen at the Hay Market, the [428r]

Opera’s of Faramando and Xerxes; and made

up the Pistachio Pasticio of Allessandro Severo.

It was in this Season (1737/8) that Mr. Handell

had his great Benefit at the Hay Market,

which enabled him to Discharge his Debts; the

Gentlemen having been so obliging to lend him

the House.

No fresh Subscription for Opera’s being set on

foot at this time, the Opera Singers left England:

And, Mr. Handell, the ensuing Winter hired the

Hay Market House for the Performance of his

Oratorio’s. He began (1738/9) with the Oratorio of

Saul, and he afterwards performed that Majestic

Composition of Israel in Egypt: But his Singers

in general not being Capital, nor the Town come

into a relish of this Species of Musick, he had but

a disadvantageous Season.

The latter end of the Summer following, he

Composed his 12 Instrumental Concerto’s; and [429v]

in the Winter after, hired Lincoln’s-Inn Fields

Play House for his Performances, which he continued

twice a Week, throwing in sometimes an Opera;

and during the Winter, that of Hymen was Compos’d.

In Novemr. 1739, he performed his 2d. Ode of

Dryden’s, on St. Caecilia’s Day, then set to Musick.

But even this Year (1739/40), he met with but

indifferent Success: However he was resolved to

try once more, and again performed in the same

manner as the preceding Winter at Lincoln’s Inn

Field’s Play House[.]

It was in the Winter 1740/1, that he performed

his Opera of Diedemar: However finding that

notwithstanding there was no Opera (nor had been

any since the Year 1738;) he met with little encouragement, he gave over his Performances

and in the Year 1741 went to Ireland.

In Lent 1743. at Covent Garden he performed

his Oratorio of Sampson, and it was received with

uncommon Applause. He afterwards performed

The Messiah. But partly from the Scruples, [429r]

some Persons had entertained, against carrying on

such a Performance in a Play House, and partly

for not entering into the genius of the Composition, this

Capital Composition, was but indifferently relish’d.

The Lent following (1743/4), he again performed

Oratorio’s at Covent Garden, and met with Success.

The New one this Year, was that of Joshua; and

he also set a Dramatic Piece of Mr. Congreve’s

called Semele. This Season likewise proved a good

one to him.

Opera’s after having been revived for two Seasons,

ceasing again. Mr. Handell hired the Hay Market

House, and began Performances in the Oratorio

manner in the Winter 1744. The Drama of

Hercules, and the Oratorio of Belshazzer were

new this Winter, but this proved a very bad Season

and he performed with considerable loss.

The Lent following (1745/6), he perform’d only a

very few times, his Occasional Oratorio at Covent

Garden. It was then new. [430v]

In 1746/7 he performed again, Wednesdays

and Fridays in Lent; and the Oratorio of

Judas Maccabeus, went off with very great

Applause. He continued his Performances in

Lent to the time of his Death.

[in pencil] April 13. 1758[1]



[1] The National Archives, Kew: Public Record Office 30/24/28/84, ff. 424r-430v [“verso-recto” numbering]; repr. Deutsch, Handel, 844-48.