While holiday window browsing, listening to carols heralding shoppers, humming along, I happened to come across, hidden behind a couple large stores, the Handel House, at 25 Brook Street, in London’s Mayfair district. I had time before my dinner reservation, so figured why not see what the hullabaloo was about.
Indeed, George Frideric Handel, German composer, (1685-1759) did live here from 1723 until his death. Within the walls of this five-story Georgian home, Handel wrote several operas as well as his famous oratorio Messiah, which he created in 24 days.
Jump ahead 246 years. American rock star Jimi Hendrix (1942-1970) rented the same place, settling in with his then girlfriend, Kathy Etchingham.
Beyond that coincidence, and last names ending in “H,” similarities end. However, the heritage and musical contributions to humanity of these disparate artists have been carefully curated into exhibits complete with heirlooms, furniture, ephemera, clothing, and music.
Handel played organ and harpsichord; the left-handed Hendrix played his guitar upside down. Still, both wrote music and lyrics by hand, and each decorated his home to reflect the times they lived. Both bedrooms are reproductions of the originals; Handel’s constructed from detailed inventories; and Hendrix’s from copious photographs.
I visited a few friends and cousins, ate at Nopi, saw a play and thoroughly enjoyed London, an old friend to me that always feels like home.