Click to enlargeHornpipe by G. F. Handel (brass quintet)

The King of England was throwing a little party on the river Thames. He got a bunch of his cronies together and they all got on his party barge and the floated up the river on the tide during the evening, and returned down the river on the tide after nightfall.

Of course, the King couldn't do anything without his PR machine making a national event of it, so his barge was accompanied by hundreds or perhaps thousands of other vessels in what must have been a most amazing sight.

What's a barge party without music? Of course, things being what they were in the middle 1700s, the King's barge was not equipped with a sound system. He therefore hired the most famous composer in Britain, G. F. Handel, to put together an orchestra and float along on a separate barge playing all-new music composed especially for the occasion.

What we have left of this party today is a great story and a set of three suites of music Handel composed for the occasion. The most famous of the movements is number 12, part of the second suite, originally written in D major for a mixed orchestra of strings, trumpets, horns, oboes, and bassoon.

Handel's harmonies were simple enough that all of the essentials can be covered by the five voices of a brass quintet. This creates a piece of music that is easily incorporated into a concert program, a ceremony or reception, or any reason a brass quintet might play.

This arrangement presents just the first section of the movement, including the most recognizable themes, transposed to concert B-flat and lightly reworked for brass players.

MP3 sound sample: Synthesizer/midi.



HORNPIPE from Handel's Water Music #12 HVW 349, arranged by Tom Kirkland for brass quintet consisting of two trumpets, F horn, trombone, and tuba, comes in a pdf file of 187K, with a three-page score, five one-page parts, and a license page, nine pages in all. Performance time should be approximately 2:30.


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Last update: 27 September 2017