Coronation Anthems (HWV 259, 258, 260, 261) (Full Score, hardback)
Handel Coronation Anthems (HWV 259, 258, 260, 261) (Full Score, hardback)
The Coronation Anthems are amongst Handel’s best-known works and are frequently performed in concerts. But the history of their composition is not fully known: after the death of King George I in June 1727, his son George Augustus (1683–1760) was proclaimed the new British King George II in London a little later. At this point, William Croft (1678–1727) probably still had the primary claim to compose the music required for the forthcoming coronation, for he had held the key positions of Organist, Composer and Master of the Children in the Chapel Royal since 1707/08.
After Croft’s unexpected death on 14 August 1727 and the fixing of the date for the coronation, a new composer for the anthems had to be found urgently. As well as Handel, who fulfilled the most important requirements for such a commission having been appointed “Composer of Musick for his Majesty’s Chappel Royal” in 1723 and having become a British subject in February 1727, Maurice Green was possibly also under consideration, having succeeded Croft as Organist and Composer of the Chapel Royal on 4 September. However, according to a statement made by George III (1738–1820), George II decided against Green and for Handel.
The anthem Zadok the priest, which occurs first in the autograph manuscript volume of the Coronation Anthems and therefore received the HWV number 258, was heard not at the Recognition, but only at the Anointing, the actual high point of the ceremony. It was regarded by George III as perhaps Handel’s most perfect piece of music. Since its first performance on 11 October 1727 in Westminster Abbey, it has been heard at each successive coronation of a British King or Queen (most recently in 1953 at the coronation of Elizabeth II).
- Urtext of the Halle Handel Edition Series III/10
- Let thy hand be strengthened HWV 259 [Handel, George Frideric]
- Zadok the priest HWV 258 [Handel, George Frideric]
- The King shall rejoice HWV 260 [Handel, George Frideric]
- My heart is inditing HWV 261 [Handel, George Frideric]