Paul Barz - Handel's Ghosts
BBC Radio 3: Sunday Play
Broadcast: Sunday 21st December 1997 @ 10:00 p.m.
"Handel's Ghosts" is based on a fictional personal meeting of Bach and Handel in 1747 on the occasion of Bach's admission to the
"Societät der musikalischen Wissenschaften" [Society of Musical Sciences] of which Handel had been the first and only honourary member
Both born in 1685, George Friedric Handel and Johann Sebastian Bach were the foremost composers of their age and almost exact
contemporaries. In "Handel's Ghosts", they meet for the first and last time in their lives when Handel invites Bach to supper after his
admission to the Society of Musical Sciences. Handel is a man of the world, well-travelled and wealthy while Bach is only a Leipzig
choirmaster. But in their verbal sparring, Handel does not have it all his own way. ...
In reality, Bach made a number of attempts to contact Handel but his letters weren't answered and messengers were sent away
empty-handed. Despite two wives and 20 children, for Bach, music was God. He was like William Blake. And Handel? The Lloyd Webber
of his day. A famous, international jetsetter opening oratorios in different cities, making (and losing) fortunes. He ploughed his way against
the odds and was happiest at court. . . a hob-nobber. Strangely, the same surgeon operated on both of them for blindness, managing to mess
up on each occasion.
Translated by David Tushingham from Paul Barz's play, "Mögliche Be-gegnung", which premiered in Berlin in 1985.
With Robert Hardy [George Frederic Handel], Richard Briers [Johann Sebastian Bach], and John Wells [Johann Christoph Schmidt,
The harpsichordist was Martin Parry.
Directed by John Adams.
No-one knows whether J.S. Bach met Georg Frederick Handel.
They were almost exact contemporaries. Paul Barz's play
Handel's Ghost (R3 2200 21 December) assumes that he did.
Handel is a man of the world, well-travelled and wealthy, Bach
is only a Leipzig choirmaster. But in their verbal sparring,
Handel does not have it all his own way. Robert Hardy and
Richard Briers played Handel and Bach respectively, John
Wells played Handel's servant, J.C. Smith (a good composer
in his own right).
.... ND,1997, VRPCC newsletter.
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