The Georges’ Water Music

    The Two Georges - Handel and the King - on the Thames. Edouard Jean Conrad Hamman (1819-1888)

    On a warm July 17, in the year 1717, King George II sailed down the Thames with a group of nobles, followed by a barge filled with musicians playing a new trio of suites composed by George Friedrich Handel for the occasion. They didn’t really ‘sail’, but were rather carried along by the rising tide, so no rowers required. The King was so pleased with the music, that he had the entire tri-partite composition repeated three times, from after 8 to midnight, back and forth on the Thames. Before union rules, you played for as long as the pleasure of the king required. A sort of compliment, even if the beleaguered musicians must have been exhausted; perhaps the delightful music carried them along.

    Hence, Handel’s three suites were dubbed ‘Water Music’, and the name has stuck. A fitting theme on this bright, summer day, at least where I write, and I hope it is felicitous wherever the reader, and listener, be. If you can traverse somehow on water today, you will be doubly blessed, and give thanks to God for the grace.