Monday, September 10

Whereupon I discover YouTube music bots have a sense of humor

Yes I know it's supposed to be just soulless algorithms but how do you explain YouTube plopping Handel's "Music for the Royal Fireworks" into my Playlist to Read Syrian War Reports By, which consists of the renowned Japanese composer/pianist Ryuichi Sakamoto's "Sayonara" and "Acceptance," renowned Senegalese drummer/composer Doudou N'Diaye Rose's "Djobte" album, and songs sung by the renowned Sufi Pakistani (born and raised in India) qawwali masters and composers Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and the Sabri Brothers?

When I put it that way maybe it was the YouTube bots thinking to themselves, 'This one has such great taste in composers she's sure to love Handel.'

As a matter of fact I do love Handel's compositions but I am stumped as to how YouTube figured Fireworks Music would be just the ticket for my listening today. Well, no more looking a gift horse in the mouth -- wait! Wait a minute. I'm reading through the extensive background to the Fireworks Music, posted by 'The New Cavalier' to accompany the YouTube recording. I'll be darned. Pandemonium accompanied the first public performance of "Fireworks." Music to read Syrian War reports by, indeed! 

Thank you, YouTube bots, which of course work for Google, which is my blog platform and the search engine I rely on for Syrian war reports not found in my daily reading list of websites.  
Against George II's wishes, Handel insisted upon including strings in the orchestra for the main celebration. Renowned designer Florentine Servandoni was summoned to construct what was dubbed an enormous "machine" as the centerpiece.
A great wood and canvas structure measuring over 400 feet long and 100 feet high, it was constructed in the manner of "a magnificent Doric Temple" and executed in the trompe-l'oeil style. It was complete with a triumphal arch topped with a grand Sun, bearing the latin epigraph "VIVAT REX" in letters of "bright fire" which were to burn for five hours. The structure featured impressive side pavilions and elaborate decoration.
On the great day, the King and his entourage toured the "machine," presenting purses to its operatives while the entire band played, commencing at 6 o'clock.
The beginning of the fireworks display went well enough, as "The Gentleman's Magazine" vol. 19 (April, 1749), describes:
"At half an hour after eight, the works were begun by a single rocket from before the library, then the cannon within the chevaux de frize were fired...101 pieces of cannon placed on Constitution-hill, were discharged; after which a great number of rockets of different sorts, balloons, etc. were discharged, to surprising perfection."
However, catastrophe ensued when the great "machine" misfired and burst into intense flame. The left pavilion of the structure was most affected, and according to the "Description II" of the celebration, published afterwards, the contrivance "burnt with great Fury."
Two of the arches smoldered to the ground, and the whole building was only saved when carpenters cast away another two arches and fire engines were brought in to suppress the flames.
The stress was apparently great, because another misfortune followed when [the set designer] Florentine Servandoni threw a tantrum and drew his sword on Charles Frederick, Comptroller of the event.
Servandoni was imprisoned but released the next day after tendering his apologies. In the end, the great sun, "32 feet in Diameter," the literal highlight of the arrangement, survived the disaster to fulfill expectations.

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