Music for the Royal Fireworks at Hampton Court Palace

Music for the Royal Fireworks at Hampton Court Palace

Fireworks at Hampton Court Palace

5 September 2014

Historic Royal Palaces brings ‘Glorious Georges’ season to a close with a spectacular performance of the Handel masterpiece, accompanied by a breathtaking fireworks display.


It is one of the most famous pieces of music ever written for a monarch, but few people know that the first performance of Handel’s ‘Music for the Royal Fireworks’ was blighted by rain, and concluded with a disastrous fireworks display. This September, the Baroque masterpiece returns for a unique recreation at Hampton Court Palace, performed by internationally renowned and critically acclaimed ensemble Arcangelo, alongside an awe-inspiring light show inspired by the displays created for the Georgian Kings.

Composed by the great German composer in 1749, Handel’s ‘Music for the Royal Fireworks’ was commissioned by King George II to commemorate the end of the War of the Austrian Succession.  In a somewhat ironic twist, the King did not enjoy fireworks himself, and had to be convinced by Handel to attend the accompanying display.  Unfortunately, though the piece was an instant success, most of the fireworks failed to ignite, and those that did set fire to the pavilion the orchestra were performing on!

After this rather inauspicious beginning, ‘Music for the Royal Fireworks’ has become one of Britain’s best loved pieces.  This September, the ‘Glorious Georges’ season at Hampton Court Palace will culminate in a performance of this piece and others from the favoured court composer’s repertoire, by Arcangelo’s 30 piece orchestra.

This unique evening of Georgian music and illuminations is presented in Partnership with ‘Totally Thames’ – a season of arts and cultural events along the capital’s famous river.  Fittingly, the Thames formed a backdrop to the original display in Green Park in 1749, and will do so again at Hampton Court.

The stunning restored Baroque Privy Garden will be filled with illuminations which play with perspective and sculpture.  The audience will be invited to take in the beautiful painted interiors of the rarely seen Little Banqueting House and the glorious Mantegna Galleries by night, before settling down for an immersive evening of music from Arcangelo and specially created fireworks, inspired by eighteenth century displays.

Join us for what promises to be a magical and unforgettable evening – the spectacular display King George II never quite managed to see!

Notes to Editors

For further information and images, please contact Laura Hutchinson:, or call 020 3166 6338.

Historic Royal Palaces is the independent charity that looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, the Banqueting House, Kensington Palace and Kew Palace.  We help everyone explore the story of how monarchs and people have shaped society, in some of the greatest palaces ever built.

We raise all our own funds and depend on the support of our visitors, members, donors, volunteers and sponsors. These palaces are owned by The Queen on behalf of the nation, and we manage them for the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

We believe in four principles.  Guardianship: giving these palaces a future as long and valuable as their past. Discovery: encouraging people to make links with their own lives and today’s world.  Showmanship: doing everything with panache. Independence: having our own point of view and finding new ways to do our work. 

Registered charity number 1068852    

Arcangelo is a leading chamber music ensemble, bringing together some of the finest musicians who excel on both historical and modern instruments under the direction of its founder, Artistic Director and Conductor Jonathan Cohen.  These are performers of dazzling technical ability, verve and energy who have a passion for faithful interpretation that goes far beyond historical understanding. 

Arcangelo has attracted critical acclaim for both its concerts and recordings, including its “Arias for Guadagni”, recorded on Hyperion, which won Gramophone’s 2012 CD of the Year and being nominated for Sky’s 2013 Arts South Bank Awards.  Arcangelo has collaborated with counter tenor Iestyn Davies, bass baritones Christopher Purves and Matthew Rose, and sopranos Christiane Karg and Anna Prohaska. Our next CD recording, Bach’s Mass in B Minor with Hyperion, will be released on 1 November 2014. 

Arcangelo has performed at venues in Europe and America including Wigmore Hall, Musikverein (Vienna), Philharmonie (Berlin), Carnegie Hall (New York), Aldeburgh and the Edinburgh International Festival.

Arcangelo’s founder, Jonathan Cohen, is one of Britain's finest young musicians. He has forged a remarkable career as a conductor, cellist and keyboardist. Well known for his passion and commitment to chamber music, Jonathan is equally at home in such diverse activities as baroque opera and the classical symphonic repertoire. As well as Artistic Director of Arcangelo, he is also Associate Conductor of Les Arts Florissants and Artistic Director of the Tetbury Music Festival.

For further information, images or recordings, please contact Adam Swann, General Manager on telephone: +44 7771 818 313 or visit:

Registered charity number 1139783

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