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“Fam'd Handel Breathing, tho' Transformed to Stone”: The Composer as Monument

Suzanne Aspden
Journal of the American Musicological Society
Vol. 55, No. 1 (Spring 2002), pp. 39-90
DOI: 10.1525/jams.2002.55.1.39
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/jams.2002.55.1.39
Page Count: 52
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“Fam'd Handel Breathing, tho' Transformed to Stone”: The Composer as Monument
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Abstract

Abstract L. F. Roubiliac carved two full-length statues of Handel, in 1738 and 1762. Although designed for quite different settings—a public pleasure garden and Westminster Abbey—the two sculptures have notable congruencies: both were sited in spaces critical for national self-definition, and both reflected aspects of the composer's public persona. This article explores the delineation of Handel's image in these statues and reproductions of them, and explicates their role in a broader attempt to define the nation through its heroes. Handel's possible involvement in fostering his status as a “British worthy” is suggested both through circumstances of the effigies' production and through his onstage performance, particularly in Alexander's Feast.

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