Remembering the Handel House Museum

17

May
2010

A recent article in The Guardian announced an upcoming exhibit at the Handel House Museum, famous for having been George Frideric Handel’s London home for nearly four decades (located at 25 Brook Street in Mayfair).

The house next door (number 23) also has a claim to fame. In 1968, Jimi Hendrix moved into the attic apartment with his girlfriend and lived there until his death two years later. Today, Hendrix’s former living space is the managing office for the museum, which is preparing to mark the 40th anniversary of the famed guitarist’s death with an exhibit, including opening up the attic apartment, displaying memorabilia, and presenting special events.

It should make for a very successful commemoration.

I had just begun studying the Guildhall School in London when the museum opened its doors in late 2001. It was a magical place where visitors were allowed to step back in time and experience the house that Handel would have known. I was fortunate enough to have been one of a handful of student musicians that performed there regulary after it opened.

For over two years, I spent countless hours at the museum—performing with my group and other ensembles, taking part in numerous masterclasses, giving lecture-demonstrations, and practicing while tourists filed in and out of the music room. (The latter experience taught me how to focus in the face of serious distraction.)

The museum continues to offer students and professionals, alike, a venue to present and develop their art. I can’t imagine where it would be without its constant promotion of live music (perhaps, like visiting Giverny only to discover Claude Monet’s house empty of any art he owned).

That the museum chooses to maintain a vibrant music series makes it not just valuable, but priceless.

(23 and 25 Brook Street, Mayfair, London. Photo: Liz Smith)

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