Guess what Jimi Hendrix and Georg Friedrich Händel have in common? Apart from music, of course. They lived in the same building in London’s Brook Street in the elegant district of Mayfair, although with a time difference of 200 years. A flight of imagination invites to speculations what they would have had to say to each other had they ever met.
Born in Germany in 1685, the great Baroque composer and musician had a distinguished (and lucrative) career, living and working in Hamburg, Italy and, finally London where he stayed at 25 Brook Street from 1723 until his death in 1759. It was in this beautiful period building, that Händel wrote masterpieces like the Messiah, Zadoc the priest and Music for the Royal Fireworks. The Händel House Museum opened to the public in November 2001 and is the only museum dedicated to a composer in London.
To find the entrance you have to take a few turns around Brook Street but then a visit is utterly rewarding. Although none of the original furniture have been preserved, the rooms have been reconstructed and you’ll see instruments used by the great man himself, as well as many paintings and original sheet music. Start with the rehearsal room on the 1st floor with many portraits of the singers Händel worked with and a reproduction of a Ruckers double-manual harpsichord. Continue on to the 2nd floor and have a glance at Händel’s bedroom and the so called London Room. No photography is allowed inside the museum, but near the London Room you’ll find a closet with period Georgian costumes which visitors are invited to try on and the helpful assistants are happy to take your picture.
Outside this area, the stairs go up to the top floor, but they are roped off and that’s where you learn about the Jimi Hendrix surprise. Because during his stay in London in 1968, he occupied rooms on the top floor, but there is no access for museum visitors.
However, sheet music of both musical geniuses is displayed side by side.
The museum is open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and satruday from 10am to 6pm, Sunday 12noon to 6pm. Thursday evenings at 6.30 there are live performances and there are many more events which take place in these historical surroundings.
For details please consult the museum’s website: www.handelhouse.org.
Admission is GBP 6 per adult.