Monday, 23 November 2009

The Cambridge Handel Encyclopedia

Returning from Oxford this evening, I found The Cambridge Handel Encyclopedia waiting for me. Edited by Annette Landgraf and David Vickers, it aims to be a comprehensive guide to Handel's life, works and historical context. I have no claims to be a musicologist but was able to contribute the entries on Queen Anne; on Baron Johann Adolf von Kielmansegg (master of the horse to George I, who commissioned the waterborne concert at which Water Music was first performed); on George I's mistress Melusine von der Schulenberg, duchess of Kendal, and her daughter Petronilla, countess of Walsingham, best-known simply as the wife of the politician and literatus Philip Dormer Stanhope, fourth earl of Chesterfield, but a doughty defender of Handel during a period when he courted unfashionability with his music for the English language Semele. This is a useful volume for anyone interested in the musical and cultural history of early eighteenth-century Britain, to which I'm glad to have contributed.

I've been a bit less visible since I left the staff of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, so have been less obviously available to contribute to projects like this in the last couple of years; a pity, as I enjoy doing them.