November 3, 1752: William Bromfield, surgeon to the Princess of Wales, operates on the eyes of George Frideric Handel (67), perhaps to remove a cataract. The procedure brings temporary relief to the patient but does not last. In August, the General Advertiser reported that the composer suffered a “paralytic Disorder in his Head which has deprived him of sight.”
January 27, 1753: The London Evening Post reports that George Frideric Handel (67) has “quite lost his sight.”
February 22, 1753: Charles Avison (44) dates his A Reply to the Author of Remarks On the Essay on Musical Expression. William Hayes, a professor at Oxford University, strongly criticized Avison’s less than laudatory remarks about Handel (67) in his Essay, and his preference for church music of the Italian school rather than the English. Avsion calls Hayes a “tasteless pedant.” Sales of the original Essay increase.
May 1, 1753: George Frideric Handel (68) plays a voluntary on the organ at a performance of Messiah at the Foundling Hospital, London. This is the last reported instance of Handel (68) performing on the organ in public.
January 31, 1754: François-André Danican Philidor’s (27) ode A Hymn to Harmony, to words of Congreve, is performed for the first time, in the Little Theatre in the Haymarket, London, “in order to justify himself of the calumny spread about the town that he was not the author of the Latin music he gave last year...” Present at the concert is George Frideric Handel (68) who finds “the choruses well put together, and only said that that the airs lacked taste.”
April 6, 1754: The last performance of Admeto, re di Tessaglia takes place today in London. It is the last staging of an opera by George Frideric Handel (69) until the 20th Century.
May 15, 1754: Messiah by George Frideric Handel (69) is performed at the Foundling Hospital, London. This is probably the last time that the work is performed under the direction of the composer.
February 25, 1757: The oratorio Esther by George Frideric Handel (72) is performed as part of the Lenten concert series in London. It includes the addition of Sion now her head shall rise, possibly the last chorus composed by Handel.
March 11, 1757: The Triumph of Time and Truth by George Frideric Handel (72) to words of Morell after Pamphili is performed for the first time, at Covent Garden, London.
August 24, 1758: Dr. John Taylor of Tunbridge reports in the London Chronicle that his recent operation on the eyes of George Frideric Handel (73) was a success. This turns out to be false.
March 2, 1759: The Lenten oratorio season begins in London with a performance of Solomon. It is the last season to be supervised by George Frideric Handel (74).
April 6, 1759: After the final concert of the oratorio season, a performance of Messiah, George Frideric Handel (74) is confined to his bed by illness. He felt faint while directing the music.
April 14, 1759: 0800 George Frideric Handel dies at his home at 25 Brook Street, Mayfair, Westminster, London, United Kingdom, aged 74 years, one month, and 22 days.
April 20, 1759: Evening. The mortal remains of George Frideric Handel are laid to rest in the south transept of Westminster Abbey. The London Evening Post reports, “The Bishop, Prebendaries, and the whole Choirs attended, to pay the last Honours due to his Memory; and it is computed there were not fewer than 3,000 persons present on this Occasion.”
July 10, 1762: A monument to George Frideric Handel (†3) by Louis François Roubiliac is unveiled in Westminster Abbey.
January 21, 1786: Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (71) writes to Johann Joachim Eschenburg about Charles Burney’s Handel (†26) Commemoration, which Eschenburg sent to him. He disagrees with many assertions by Burney and finds Handel wanting in comparison to Johann Adolf Hasse (†2), Carl Heinrich Graun (†26), Reihard Keiser (†46) and his father, Johann Sebastian Bach (†36). He also reports to Eschenburg that “I recently burned a ream and more of old works of mine and am glad that they are no more.” (Wolff, CPE Bach, 214)
February 1, 1795: At the invitation of the Prince of Wales, Joseph Haydn (62) attends a soiree at the residence of the Duke of York. King George III, the Queen, the Duke of Orange and other members of the royal family are present. The composer plays and sings for them. King George, an admirer of the music of George Frideric Handel (†35), is charmed.
February 5, 1842: Felix Mendelssohn (33) writes to Ferdinand David about the playing of Franz Liszt (30), “...he sacrificed a large part of my esteem by the foolish antics he plays not just with his audience (there is no harm in that) but with the music itself as well. He played Beethoven (†14), Bach (†91), Handel (†82) and Weber (†15) with such wretched shortcomings, so untidily and ignorantly, that I had much rather have heard them played by mediocre pianists.”
June 29, 1888: At the ninth Handel (†129) Festival in Crystal Palace, George Gouraud records an excerpt from a performance of Israel in Egypt conducted by August Manns. The recording is made on an Edison wax cylinder. (It is one of the oldest extant recordings of music)