Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks


Today I listened to ABC Classic FM. I particularly enjoyed the overture to Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks. This was first performed in 21 April 1749 in London for a public rehearsal, with the fireworks itself on 27 April. It commemorates the end of the War of Austrian Succession.

When Maria Theresa of Austria succeeded her father Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor in 1740 according to her father's wishes (officially under the pragmaticae sanctiones), her reign was under threat by some who saw her as weak. Charles VI had actually intended her to cede her powers to her (future) husband.

The war started when King Frederick II of Prussia invaded Silesia in 1740. By 1741, nearly all of the European powers were involved. Aligned with Prussia was France, Spain and Bavaria. Austria was supported by the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

Empress Maria Theresa of Austria

The war finally ended in 1748. Maria Theresa continued on the throne until her death in 1780, the only female Habsburg ruler.

The Habsburg family continues to this day, with no empire, having to renounce claims to the Austrian throne (to return from exile). The last former Crown Prince, now just Otto von Habsburg (or Otto Habsburg-Lothringen) lives in Germany, and has seven children (the first five are daughters). The eldest son lives in Austria, while the youngest lives in Hungary. Both modern day republics are unlikely to reinstate a monarchy.

You can read more about the modern day Habsburg (in German) from Otto's official site.

Another famous Austrian family is the von Trapp family (as in the Sound of Music).

For my American readers, Austria (in Europe) should not to be confused with Australia (an island continent, which hosted the 2000 Olympics in Sydney).

Today, I listened to ABC Classic FM and thought about Austrian history but I actually I like Handel's Water Music better than his Fireworks music.

If you enjoyed reading this, let me know. You can email me at keisercat@wildmail.com


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