Welcome to British Isles Friday! British Isles Friday is a weekly event for sharing all things British and Irish — reviews, photos, opinions, trip reports, guides, links, resources, personal stories, interviews, and research posts. Join us each Friday to link your British and Irish themed content and to see what others have to share. The link list is at the bottom of this post. Pour a cup of tea or lift a pint and join our link party!
Last week, I reviewed a film about aliens invading London, Attack the Block. Jean read the Athurian tale, Merlin and the Grail. Mike invited us to London’s Lord Mayor’s Show on the second Saturday of November, and gave us the historical context to appreciate it. Tina reviewed Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz (who many of us will recognize as the screenwriter of Foyle’s War). Becky reviewed Whistling in the Dark, a middle-grade novel about World War II in Liverpool. Sim shared more casting news about A Discovery of Witches mini-series.
One of the settings in my National Novel Writing Month project is a Georgian house in London. While I was researching geography and architecture, I came across the coolest museum — Handel & Hendrix in London. Yep, George Frederic Handel who wrote Music for the Royal Fireworks and Jimi Hendrix who made us hear the rockets in “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
How did they end up in one museum? By living in neighboring Georgian townhouses, 200 years apart.
Handel was the first occupant of No. 25 Brook Street in 1723. This is where he composed many of his famous works, including Zadok the Priest (a coronation anthem for George II that has been played at every British coronation since then), Music for the Royal Fireworks, and The Messiah. He died there in 1759, at age 74.
The museum has put together a video of a model of the house showing the changes that happened to it since Handel’s death:
Hendrix rented a flat in No. 23 Brook Street, living there for brief periods in 1968 and 1969. He was photographed and interviewed at that location. When he learned that Handel once lived next door, he bought Handel albums at the One Stop Record Shop in South Molton Street.
Everyone I’ve told about the Handel & Hendrix museum has an initial reaction of “What?” and, then, a few seconds later, “Wait, that’s kinda cool.”
For me, there are three pieces that achieve spectacle in music above all others. “The Hallelujah Chorus” in Handel’s Messiah and “The Star-Spangled Banner” as played by Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock are two of them. That’s why I love the idea that these two musicians now share a museum in London. (The third piece is Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, because cannons).
A single ticket gets you into both residences and to see exhibits about both musicians’ lives and legacies. I would love to visit on a day when the Music Room in the Handel House has an open rehearsal. I’m also tempted by A Hard Rock Hendrix Experience, combining a visit to the museum with a meal, down the street, at the Hard Rock Café.
Check out Handel & Hendrix in London — it’s a fun website for armchair travel until we’re able to get there in person.