The houses in 23 and 25 Brook Street have long been the source of fascination for Londoners and visitors to London, marked by two blue plaques they were at one time the residences of two of the great musical talents. This exhibition entitled Handel & Hendrix in London allows visitors access into the rooms that were occupied in certain periods by George Frideric Handel and Jimi Hendrix.
Handel House (25 Brook Street) is the Georgian townhouse where George Frideric Handel lived and worked for 36 years. He wrote many of his greatest works there, including Messiah and held rehearsals and first performances of his music and died in the second-floor bedroom in the house in 1759.
Entering from Brook Street, you walk up the stairs to enter the world of George Frideric Handel, one of the great 18th century composers. The location of Brook Street allowed Handel to be close to the theatres of Covent Garden and be surrounded by the shops and coffee houses of a dynamic 18th century London.
Handel’s connections to the Hanoverian court encouraged him to move to London and he became one of the most famous composers of his time. Much of his music was composed in the Composition Room on the first floor next to Music Room where Handel used to rehearse, perform and entertain.
Before he had moved into Brook Street in 1727, Handel had already composed The Water Music for a royal water party and was appointed ‘Master of the Orchestra’ of London’s first Italian opera company, the Royal Academy of Music. Over the next 40 years he would write some 31 operas for the London stage, one of his most famous works was Zadok the Priest for the coronation of King George II in 1726. It is a piece of music that has been featured in every British coronation since. Other famous works composed in Brook Street were Messiah, first performed in 1742 and Music for the Royal Fireworks performed in 1748.
Moving up to the next floor is the more private parts of the house, Handel who never married found a peaceful retreat in his bedroom and dressing room.
Going up the next flight of stairs, visitors are fast forwarded over 200 years, entering the top floor flat which was home to guitar legend, Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix moved into the flat in 23 Brook Street in 1968 and it became a meeting place for musicians in the swinging 60s. The release of the Electric Ladyland LP in that summer confirmed Hendrix has one of the guitar greats of the 1960s.
For the first time, visitors can now enter the flat and see the living room and bedroom, carefully restored as it was when he lived there in 1969. Next door is albums from his record collection which feature many of his influences especially Bob Dylan.The flat features original exhibits, including the Epiphone FT79 acoustic guitar which he bought in New York at the end of his first US tour with the Experience and brought back to London and multimedia presentation showing the great musician in action.
This Handel & Hendrix exhibition offers an intriguing exploration of two great musical talents whose influence on the London music scenes in their respective times was considerable. Each part of the fascinating exhibition has been painstakingly restored to illustrate the musician’s lives and times. Personal items and period pieces combine to create distinct periods to give the visitor insights into the lives of two remarkable musicians.
You can visit, just one part of the exhibition for a reduced rate, however it is well worth visiting the whole exhibition to fully experience this historic London Georgian townhouse in the middle of Mayfair.
Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended
If you would like further information or book tickets, visit the Handel & Hendrix in London website here
Handel & Hendrix in London, 25 Brook Street, Mayfair, London W1K 4HB
Opening hours from 10 February 2016: Monday-Saturday 11am-6pm; Sunday 12noon-6pm;
Last admission: 5pm.
Admission: Handel & Hendrix: Adult £10; Child £5. Handel House (only): Adult £7.50; Child £3.
Hendrix Flat (only) : Adult £7.50; Child £3.
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