The first thing which springs to mind is, of course, music. But, there is something else, quite intriguing: with a time difference of a few hundred years, both lived in the same building in London.
Born in 1685 in Halle/Germany, Georg Friedrich Händel became one of the most famous baroque music composers. He wrote more than 40 operas, oratories and music for organ and spinet. After a spell in Hamburg’s Opera house, Händel moved to Florence/Italy. His opera ‘Rinaldo’ became a huge success in London and, in 1712, Händel made the city his permanent domicile.
Sponsored and acclaimed by the King and nobility, Händel was a wealthy man and could well afford the pretty townhouse in 25 Brook Street, in the heart of London’s leafy and elegant Mayfair, where he lived and worked until his death in 1759. Sadly, during the last six years of his life, Händel was blind, but continued working. Another impaired musical genius, just like Beethoven who was deaf.
Tucked away behind Bond Street is Händel’s town house, which is today the Händel House Museum. Beautifully preserved, the rooms over three floors document the life and work of Händel. None of his original furniture have survived, but it’s furnished with lovely period pieces, paintings and original sheet music.
Given his creation of so many operas, there is a separate room where visitors can try on stage costumes from the Covent Garden Opera House fund and play at opera. It’s just for fun. Concerts and recitals are performed on a regular basis, particularly the weekly ‘Thursday Live’ recitals which take place in the rehearsal and performance room.
No photography is allowed within the museum, but the guide will take a picture of you in your costume. It was also the guide who told me the surprising tidbit about Jimmy Hendrix: He lived on the top floor of this building in 1968 for over 2 years with his girlfriend. No museum part is dedicated to him but references to him and his music are placed next to the compositions of Händel, two musicians who couldn’t be more different and each a master in his genre. All under one roof, isn’t that great?
Access to his rooms in the building are roped off, so one can’t go and visit. I often wonder, if these two could meet, what would they make of each other, what would they talk about? Händel was a bachelor and had no known love affairs, whereas Jimmy Hendrix… Maybe he could give the baroque master a few pointers.