Imagine yourself at the court of Louis XIV or George I as the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra performs works by Handel and Rameau, both eighteenth-century Baroque masters who made their careers as court composers. The conductor Emmanuelle Haïm is making her first appearance with the Concertgebouw Orchestra.
Rameau and Handel were contemporaries whose music was very popular in their day; both composed a great deal for monarchs, nobles and high-ranking clergymen. At the age of twenty-two, the cosmopolitan German composer Handel wrote the moving solo cantata Il delirio amoroso, in which he sets the poetry of a cardinal whom he met in Rome. He was later appointed court composer to George I, the music-loving Elector of Hanover who later acceded to the British throne. Handel wrote the Water Music, three suites of dance music, and an instant hit, for a royal boat trip on the River Thames. At the French court of Louis XIV, Rameau wrote many operas, including the successful tragedy Dardanus, in which he incorporated much dance music owing to the Sun King’s passion for dance.