Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks was written for an event on this day in 1749. The event included fireworks … gee, what a surprise! (A bigger surprise at the time, I’m sure, was that a royal fire then occurred, due to the fireworks.)

Instrumentation for the work was “24 oboes, 12 bassoons and a contrabassoon, nine trumpets, nine French horns, three pairs of kettledrums, and an unspecified number of side drums.” (Source is wikipedia so of course it could have errors.)


  1. Too late for the anniversary, but may be of interest: Christopher Hogwood confirms the instrumentation in his Handel book, but additionally mentions a contra-basson and a serpent, which were dropped later. Hervé Niquet recorded this instrumentation with Concert Spirituel for the Glossa label and the booklet mentions the huge work involving re-building sufficiently historic oboes.

  2. Thanks for the info, Guido! I appreciate it!