Handel's "Foundling Hospital Anthem" Replaced by Composer Luke Styles After 260 Years

By Steve Nagel on Mar 03, 2016 09:00 AM EST

After 260 years, The Foundling Museum is passing the torch on its cherished anthem: the "The Foundling Hospital Anthem", originally composed by the beloved German-English composer George Frideric Handel for the hospital. It will pass to Luke Styles, the new composer-in-residence at the hospital. The new work, officially called the "Foundling Museum Anthem" was inspired by the original and, according to Rhinegold Publishing, was performed in February by the early music ensemble La Nuova Musica alongside children from Argyle Primary School.

The original "Foundling Hospital Anthem", composed by Handel, was written in 1749 as an ode to The Foundling Hospital, which was founded in London ten years earlier as a children's home, establishing "education and maintenance of exposed and deserted young children." To celebrate the noble goals of the institution, Handel even incorporated text from legislation of the period into his anthem, including pieces of the 1739 Royal Charter that aimed to "curb the problems of cheap gin drinking and family breakdown."

Although the hospital has since evolved into a charity, The Foundling Museum has continued to promote the long history of the institution and has executed similar programs since its founding in 1998. According to Rhinegold, Handel's "Foundling Hospital Anthem" was original composed for a benefit concert in 1749, and was played alongside passages from other works, such as funeral anthem for Queen Caroline, the oratorio Susanna, music by Lotti and Kuhnau, and the "Hallelujah" chorus from Messiah.

In all the years since Handel's efforts, there has been no composer-in-residence at the Foundling Hospital until Luke Styles, who has recently been working with children from the primary school and running composing workshops.

In Luke Styles's "Foundling Anthem" project, he endeavored to stay as close to the spirit of Handel's work as possible, incorporating musical elements of the period alongside contemporary music styles. Of the experience, Luke Styles said, "Composing this work allowed me to delve into the rich emotional history of the Foundling Hospital and to explore the musical style of the Baroque … and to experiment with new musical aesthetics."

Hear Handel's original below. 260 years isn't a bad run...

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TagsChildren's Hospital, Museum, Handel, Luke Styles, National Anthem

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