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Written by JulieW
(11/29/2006 5:55 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Thanks Giving Day???, penned by Reeba
The music was written in 1749 to celebrate the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle that marked the end of the War of the Austrian Succession.
A grand firework-display was planned in Green Park, for which Handel, with some reluctance, provided introductory music.
On the evening itself the music, which accompanied the King's arrival and inspection of the structure erected for the occasion, went well enough....but during the display, however,not only was the orchestra drowned out by the fireworks and the sound of 101 cannon blasts, but there was a large scale fire.
The orchestra performed on a specially-constructed stage, or machine. The Italian firework master, Cavalieri Servadoni, had designed the wholly wooden "machine", so that 11,000 fireworks of different kinds could be fired from it while the music layed. The machine was was 410 feet in length and 114 feet high, surmounted by a large "sun" firework.
Unfortunately, there was a complete misunderstanding about who could give the order to control the firing of the fireworks.Four people all thought they had the power, and sadly, all issued orders to light them at the same time.
Eventually an explosion occurred in the North Pavillion of the structure. Some stray fireworks landed on it and it caught fire. Handel stuck to his conducting, whilst the audience ran for their lives... part of the enormous wooden structure caught fire and complete disaster was narrowly averted.
Soem spectaors were injured. A boy watching in a tree tumbled out and died of his innjuries. Horace Walpole witnessed one girl being saved from being burnt to death when a quick witted bystander tore away her outer garments which were ablaze:
She would have been destroyed if some person had not the presence of mind to strip her clothes off immediately to her stays and petticoats.
See Fireworks:A History and Celebration by George Plumpton.
I'll post some pics of how it should have looked tomorrow:-)
An example of just how badly these display could go wrong.
(But I've always had a soft sopt for the music,and I walked down the asile to the Minuet from the suite ;-D...)
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