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"The Purest Benevolence: Handel and the Foundling Hospital"
2003-03-06 until 2003-05-31
Handel House Museum
London, , UK United Kingdom

The Museumís first major exhibition will focus on Handelís remarkable relationship with the Foundling Hospital, England's first hospital for abandoned children. Drawn from the extraordinary collection of the Foundling Museum (currently closed for refurbishment), this exhibition of over 30 objects includes such rarely seen treasures as the complete Messiah copy and parts which Handel gave to the hospital in his will Ė displayed here for the first time in its entirety - the score of the "Foundling Hospital Anthem" which Handel composed and performed for the hospitalís benefit, tokens left with the children by their destitute mothers, as well as paintings, prints, manuscripts and costumes.

The hospital was instigated by Capt Thomas Coram, who was moved by the terrible sight of babies Ė many born to unmarried women - and young children left to die in Londonís streets. After a 20-year struggle, the hospital was founded in 1739.

Stimulated by Ďmotives of the purest benevolence and humanityí (Charles Burney), Handelís involvement began in 1749 and from 1750 Messiah was performed under his direction on an annual basis for the Hospitalís benefit. It is estimated that within a decade Handel had generated income of £10,000.

Director Jacqueline Riding says, ĎIn the spirit of Handelís association with the Hospital, the Handel House and Foundling Museums have developed a very special relationship over the past few years. This exhibition signals the beginning of a creative and stimulating partnership between our two unique organisations.í


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