Water Music Suite in D Major

Album: Plays Popular Classics (1717)
  • songfacts ®
  • The Water Music is a collection of orchestral movements, often considered as three suites, composed by George Frideric Handel for a boating party for King George I. It premiered in the summer on July 17, 1717 when the king requested a concert on the River Thames. The concert was performed by 50 musicians playing on a barge close to the royal barge from which the George I listened with some close friends. A newspaper report of the time recorded how thus a city company's barge was employed "with 50 instruments of all sorts, who played all the way from Lambeth, while the barge drove with the tide without rowing." The king was said to have loved it so much that he ordered the exhausted musicians to play the suites twice more, before and after supper.
  • Many parts of Water Music have become familiar. The "Alla Hornpipe" section of the Suite in D Major is particularly notable and has been used frequently for television and radio commercials, including commercials for the privatisation of the UK water companies in the late 1980s. It also featured in the 1999 Ben Afflick and Sandra Bullock romantic comedy film Forces of Nature. The overture of the Suite in D Major was used in an inspirational scene from the 1989 movie Dead Poets Society, starring Robin Williams and Ethan Hawke.
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