'My father was a poor Parisian musician': A Memoir (1756) concerning Rameau, Handel's Library and Sallé

David Charlton, Sarah Hibberd

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This presents the discovery of the only known eye-witness description of Handel's London library, about which many circumstantial conclusions have been reached across the years. The anonymous French author wrote of his travels to England and Italy, asserting a degree of acquaintanceship with Handel, in order to establish his credentials as a reviewer (1756) in a new international journal, the 'Journal Encyclopédique'. This was aimed as a literary support for the Encyclopédistes and was published just outside France, in Bouillon, but circulated in the French realm. The context was a long two-part review of Rameau's 'Zoroastre' in its revised (1756) version, and the first part contained the writer's personal story. In the first parts of the article the concern is to describe processes of verification and to establish a time-line for the events described. In the second parts, the narrative is analysed with respect to (1) its actual description of the contents, both manuscript and printed, of Handel's library, and (2) a description of the way the dancer Marie Sallé dealt with a contractual episode in London. Both elements would have been of interest to French and other readers, bearing witness to Handel's familiarity with French music and with Sallé.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-99
Number of pages39
JournalJournal of the Royal Musical Association
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • London, Handel, Marie Sallé, Paris, Journal Encyclopédique

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