Suite written by Handel to celebrate the signing of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle which ended the War of Austrian Succession. It was commissioned by King George II (1740-1748). The treaty also firmly established George and his heirs the rulers of England, so he was understandably in party mood.

The work is a French-style suite, beginning with an overture in 3/4 time and in D major. The subsequent 5 movements are stylized dances including "La Paix" (peace) and a final allegro called "La Réjouissance" (Rejoicing). As the piece was written to be performed outside in Vauxhall Gardens, the orchestration is heavy on the louder instruments available; oboes, bassoons and brass dominate.

It was a measure of Handel's popularity that a large paying audience turned up for a rehearsal of the work, causing one of London's earliest traffic-jams.

"The Gentleman's Magazine" carried the following report on Friday, 21 April, 1749:

"Was performed at Vauxhall Gardens the rehearsal of the music for the fireworks by a band of 100 musicians, to an audience above 12,000 persons (tickets 2s 6d). So great a resort occasioned such a stoppage on London Bridge, that no carriage could pass for three hours. The footmen were so numerous as to obstruct the passage, so that a scuffle happened, in which some gentlemen were wounded."

The actual premiere (on 27 April 1749) met with worse disaster. Not only was the orchestra drowned out by the fireworks and 101 cannon blasts, but there was a large scale fire. The orchestra performed on a specially-constructed stage. It was 100 feet high and topped by a 200 foot sun. All made of wood. Some stray fireworks landed on it and it caught fire. Handel stuck to his conducting, whilst the audience ran for their lives...

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