Two Music Legends – 240 years apart


Written for London360 in March 2016:

London has been home to many legends from the music industry over the centuries such as Queen and The Beatles. Two of these legends lived right next to each other in the city although almost 240 years apart. They were composer George Handel and musician Jimi Hendrix. Handel lived during the 18th Century and Hendrix was in London in the late 1960s. There’s a Museum which is located where both of these music legends lived and is run by the Handel House Trust on Brook Street.

There are people who have grown up in the city who are still fascinated by the history and the architecture. When you set foot in the Museum, people say there is a presence of Handel and the creaking stairs and floorboards give the building some character. The volunteers and staff were helpful in explaining more about Handel’s life in London and how he made the music scene of the 18th Century city into his own. From being born in Saxony (present day Germany) to creating pieces such as Messiah; Handel was highly respected and his music is still being played.

The bedroom which Hendrix lived in was recreated from photos from the era and kept true to what it would have looked like in the Sixties. You may feel that you’ve jumped in time again but Hendrix was another trailblazer where he made the music scene of the city at the time his own. Even though Hendrix’s time was short in the city, his music is still being played.

Not many people knew they lived next to each other. The blue plaques on the buildings tell us someone famous who lived there and the plaque of Handel used to be where the joint of the two buildings were. When Hendrix lived on Brook Street, music students used to ask him if he lived where Handel was. Hendrix himself thought he lived in the same building as the composer and there is a story that the musician saw the ghost of Handel in the mirror whilst in the bathroom.

When asked about the similarities between the two music legends and whether they would be the best of friends’; staff agreed that there were similarities. They also agreed that they would be the best of friends, respect each other and learn more about their different styles of music.

The Museum and other people do fusions of Handel and Hendrix’s music. They also play Hendrix’s music on a Harpsichord which apparently sounds like an acoustic guitar. A Harpsichord according to the British Harpsichord Society is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It also produces sound by plucking a string when a key is pressed.

A popular piece of fusion between classical and modern is British group Clean Bandit’s ‘Mozart’s House’. On their YouTube music video, people appreciate what the band did and have inspired others to create their own fusions with classical music.

Finally, the Museum has plans for the legacy of both music legends by helping the careers of Young Musicians and ensuring future generations are inspired by their work.

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