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BCS - About the Libretto
BCS Next Concert

About the Libretto
The Creation

7.30pm
31 October 2015

Assembly Rooms

Haydn Creation

Haydn is said to have mentioned a Mr 'Lidley' as the source for the libretto but he probably mispronounced the name 'Linley'. Thomas Linley (1733-1795) was in charge at Drury Lane Theatre during Haydn's first London visit. He had been the first musical director at the Assembly Rooms when they opened in 1771 and, having made his fortune in Bath, he had moved to London. He could have given Salomon the poem, "The creation of the world", to pass on to Haydn. But from where did Linley get it? It may be pure conjecture but there is an obvious link with Bath.

It is probable that the poem was originally prepared for Handel but although he retained it among his papers he never used it. Handel's musical instruments, scores, and papers were inherited by John Christopher Smith (1712-1795) who was the composer's amanuensis when he became blind. After the composer's death in 1759, Smith became artistic director of the Covent Garden Royal Theatre and in 1774 he retired to Bath. He was living here when Haydn visited the city in 1794 and it is likely that the two met. More to the point, it is surely also probable that Linley and Smith knew each other well, either in Bath or in London. Linley wrote his own oratorio on the Miltonic theme of 'Paradise Lost' and the poem would have been of great interest to him in this connection.

As to who wrote the poem, Charles Jennens, Handel's librettist for Messiah, is one of several possibilities which also include James Thomson, the originator of the libretto used in The Seasons.


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