Music for the Royal Fireworks


Handel, G F


1. Overture, 2 mins 20 secs
2. Allegro, 6 mins 44 secs
3. Bouree, 1 min 18 secs
4. Sicilliana, 3 min 40 secs
5. Allegro and minuets, 5 mins 27 secs


Flute, oboe, clarinets in B flat and A (for the quintets in D only), French horn in F and bassoon.


Wind Quintet version of Music for the Royal Fireworks, composed for King George 2nd in 1749.

Overture – Listen to an extract:


Allegro – Listen to an extract:


Bouree – Listen to an extract:


Siciliana – Listen to an extract:


Allegro & Minuets – Listen to an extract:

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George Friderick Handel (1685 – 1759) was a remarkably prolific composer of operas, concerti, concerti grossi, organ music, oratorios and many other pieces of music. He is probably best known for his seminal work, The Messiah although the Creation is equally well known. Three suites of Water Music were composed for King George 1st in response to a request for music to be played on the river Thames in 1717. This was followed by his Music for the Royal Fireworks for King George 2nd in 1749. The music and fireworks were to celebrate the peace of Aix la Chapelle marking the end of the War of Succession in Austria. The first performance of this piece was attended by 12000 people each paying two shillings and sixpence and causing a massive traffic jam on London Bridge.

There was some dispute between Handel and the King’s Master-General of Ordnance, the Duke of Montague, over the scoring of the piece. Handel wanted strings, the King did not apparently preferring martial instruments and no fiddles. Handle omitted the strings for the first performance but subsequently included them in his revised score.

Perhaps the most remarkable recording of the Music for the Royal Fireworks occurred when 48 oboes, 24 bassoons, 24 trumpets and percussion recorded the entire piece one Sunday morning at 7.00am in the 1960s. This was, apparently, the only time all the principal players of so many orchestras were available.

This arrangement is for traditional wind quintet with the option of using a clarinet in A. A version of this piece in C rather than the original D, is also available.

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