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3rd February 1742 On this day, Handel directed a popular performance of his oratorio Esther at the New Musick Hall on Fishamble Street, Dublin.
Handel's concerts were so popular in Dublin that they caused traffic jams of chairs and carriages outside causing the newspapers to report,
'For the convenience of ready emptying of the House, no Chairs will be admitted in waiting but hazard Chairs, at the new passage in Copper Alley'.
Handel directed this very successful performance of his oratorio Esther also with organ concertos as the keyboard was such an important instrument.
As well as improvising and embellishing arias from the keyboard, Handel also made several keyboard arrangements of his orchestral works reflecting the significance of the leading instrument, the harpsichord.
The keyboard arrangement of the Overture to Esther is from a version in the British Library, written between 1737 and 1739 by John Christopher Smith, Handel’s musical assistant and amanuensis and pupil of Thomas Roseingrave. This transcription differs in quality than the keyboard arrangement of the overture of Messiah as it is much more likely to be in Handel’s own hand as according to Handelian scholar and editor, Professor Terence Best suggests, ‘because of the extensive re-composition, particularly in the first and last movements’.
These keyboard arrangements of Handel’s music were aimed at connoisseurs, including professional musicians with sufficient income and an interest in the music and or some who saw themselves as patrons, personal supporters of Handel who would collect memorabilia of Handel. This music was also sold to concert-giving groups, public and private, who would perform the arrangements as items in their programmes and also sold to amateur musicians who would play the music at home, either for domestic performance or for their own private interest.