Celebration forthcoming

Dear Jackrail mates. Within the next few days I intend to make an announcement.

But first let us have a quiz!
(Please note. This quiz is for our Jackrail group only. I will not cross-post it anywhere else).

As we all know, in human civilisation, three centuries after an event is an important moment for celebrations.
And for us harpsichordists, most of us know which epoch-making event happened in November 1720, exactly three hundred years ago, don’t we?

Only this time I beg you NOT to answer to Jackrail, but to me personally to the email address
jclaudiv < at > gmail.com

This is because the first public answer to the quiz will prevent or influence any further answers, and I am keen to get independent answers…

The first member to email me the expected answer will be announced in Jackrail and will get from me a personal gift.

Thanks for your collaboration and talk to you soon …


A nice poll indeed. Alas, I am clueless so I shall not respond.
Would you please post here the results of the poll, Claudio? And of course tell us what the event was.


1 Like

Of course Domenico: I will post not only the first correct answer but also the names of those who kindly sent me (always privately please!) answers.

I am pleased to announce that I have just received the first (and correct!) answer, in a personal email by our Michael Shields.

Well done, Michael, you got the prize! But before posting here both the correct answer and the prize, let me wait a day so that others have the chance of sending me more answers, now no longer for the prize but at least for the statistics!

Good morning.

My Quiz got 20 views, but only one answer, Michael’s. The solution follows.

Handel’s first (and arguably best) set of harpsichord music is known as his “Eight Great Suites”.
He had them printed by Cluer in London in November 1720, exactly 300 years ago.
Their importance cannot be overstated, and not just for their musical excellence.
Although Baroque collections of harpsichord pieces of a similar relevance had been published a few years earlier, notably F. Couperin’s first two books, Handel’s Eight Suites were a novelty not only in the admixture of French and Italian styles but also and mainly in their technical difficulty for the player, unmatched hitherto in published music. (More than a decade would elapse before J.S. Bach performed similar feats with the editions of his keyboard Partitas).

For this 300 celebration of the Eight Suites I had planned to play them in two recitals: unfortunately, “covid-wise”, these have now been postponed.

Nevertheless, and perhaps more importantly, I have worked for this celebration most of this year, with the help of my “Bray Baroque” team. This time with the invaluable advice and encouragement from our David Pickett. Since the final result is a commercial announcement, I will now duly post it in our “For Sale” section.

I have just sent to Michael Shields, the Quiz prizewinner, the promised gift: a free copy of my new work.



> My Quiz got 20 views, but only one answer, Michael’s.

Then you’ve missed my correct answer. No worries though, big applause for Michael!

As it happens I’m listening to Scott Ross’s recording of this music while cursing a wrongly made harpsichord.

Have a nice week everyone and keep healthy!


1 Like

Dear Chris. What a pity.
I read my email in Outlook, which downloads from Gmail.
But it does NOT delete from Gmail, so if by mistake I (or any of my Outlook spam rulesA) delete an email, it can always be retrieved from Gmail, where I perform a cleanup every year or so.
There is no email from you there. No idea what happened.

Anyway, good to know that there was at least a second answer, thanks!!

(trying to keep healthy!)

PS: All the best with fixing that harpsichord! I also fixed no less than three poorly assembled kits as a young man. They did not become excellent instruments, just playable ones. One survived for more than 40 years of good services, played by a well known harpsichordist!

Thanks Chris and of course Claudio! I have been having fun with Claudio’s fingerings and look forward to reading the introductory notes more closely when I get time.

I hope the wrongly made harpsichord can be redeemed :slightly_smiling_face:


Thanks Michael! Once you read the notes (and study the pieces thoroughly with the fingerings) hopefully you will find (as I did) how much Baroque keyboard technique feels very natural in Handel’s score, making it often easier to play than using modern technique. And now I have … yes …

A NEW QUIZ! Well, actually just a simple observation.

It appears that this tercentenary has largely passed unnoticed worldwide!
I google < handel harpsichord suites tercentenary >
with a few changes and specifying webpages updated last year, and I cannot find a single public event (recital, edition, recording) celebrating this milestone.
I can hardly believe it , and sincerely hope to be proven wrong.

Hello Claudio,

I could not answer the quiz because hours of googling reveals nothing about music in November 1720. Well, not all useful knowledge is on the internet. But I do have a question. My copy of the first edition from IMSLP has no year of printing on it (unusual for the time?). My 1974 Barenreiter edition says the First Set of 1720, with no supporting information. But how do we know it is November 1720 in fact? I am not questioning your knowledge by any means, but where is the source? I am curious.

According to IMSLP that is the First Edtion, Third Issue, ca. 1725.


I’d say the lack of worldwide activity related to this is caused mostly by the virus suspending most musical work, concerts and recitals, recordings and all.

Hi Andrew. Indeed (as reported in my edition), the 1720 edition is undated. So far I have found 5 secondary sources for the 14th November 1720 date:

  1. Hogwood’s Handel book. No primary source reported.
  2. New Grove article, told me by Michael Shields.
  3. Italian Wikipedia webpage. The footnote that should confirm the date has a virus.
  4. Handel’s Keyboard Music, article by Terence Best in The Musical Times
    Vol. 112, No. 1543 (Sep., 1971), pp. 845-848 (4 pages). The part of the article available online does includes neither the date nor the source.
  5. The Cambridge Companion to Handel, ed. D. Burrows.(1997, rev.2004) Chapter “Handel and the keyboard”, also by Terence Best, pp. 217-218. “In June 1720 Handel took out a Royal Privilege…and then he issued the … Suites … on 14 November 1970, printed by J. Cluer.” Same date, no source!

So I am still at a loss at knowing the primary source!!
Does it exist, or is it a urban myth?? :slight_smile:

As for the lack of activity, well, I can see lots of online activity: new editions, online masterclasses, we bsites devoted to Handel …:thinking:

The booklet in the CD of Scott Ross’s recording states that the date is indeed printed in the foreword to the 1720 edition! However, the Henle edition by A. Hicks carries a facsimile of titlepage and foreword, and there is no date there! (can be checked online: https://www.henle.de/en/detail/?Title=Piano+Suites+%28London+1720%29_336 )
A possible explanation: some initial printed copies carried the date, later reprints (from which all the facsimiles we can find around both online and in print) did not.

Here we can read the Royal Privilege, dated 14th June 1720. Remarkably, though, this listing of complete newspaper notices related to Handel should also carry the Cluer publication date, and it does not.

No dates in the IMSLP edition I mentioned, the so called Third Issue.

I haven’t done any research on this specific publication, but many
18th-century editions can be dated with their entry at “Stationers’ Hall”.


Music Entries at Stationers’ Hall 1710–1818, compiled by Michael Kassler
from the lists prepared for William Hawes, D. W. Krummel and Alan Tyson
and from other sources. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004. xxviii, 738 pp. ISBN 0
7546 3458 2.

The British Copyright Act of 1709 protected proprietors of books and
music printed after 10 April 1710 who gave copies to the Company of
Stationers in London. Upon receipt of a copy, usually within days of its
first publication, the Stationers’ Hall warehouse keeper entered details
into a register. They included the date of registration, the name of the
work’s proprietor (its author or, if copyright had been transferred, its
publisher), and the work’s full title, which normally named the composer
and the writer of any text and often named the work’s performers and
dedicatee. Although some publishers put the words ‘Entered at
Stationers’ Hall’ on title-pages without actually depositing copies, the
information in the registers about the many works that were registered
has significant bibliographic value. Because the music entries have not
previously been printed and access to them has been difficult, they
generally have been ignored by cataloguers and scholars, with the
consequence that numerous musical works of this period have been
misdated in libraries and reference books. This book makes available,
for the first time, the full text of the music entries at Stationers’
Hall from 1710 to 1810 and abbreviated details of works entered from
1811 to 1818.

Sorry, the excerpts of this book I’ve just looked at seen seem to have
no entries at all for 1720.

Le 05/11/2020 10:53, Dennis via The Jackrail écrit :

Hi Andrew, Claudio and all,
I remember reading that English music publishers deliberately avoided printing dates on their scores because it made them less saleable if it was clear that they weren’t fresh off the press (when they would obtain a premium). Makes sense.

The Cluer edition (on IMSLP) is beautifully readable. By the way, in my 1978 Bärenreiter edition there is a silly but obvious misprint in the final chord of the Courante, Suite 1: bass d instead of e in a. Happens to the best of us.


Dear Michael,
as you peruse my edition you will find that both Bärenreiter and Henle have misprints. This should not happen with “Urtext” editions that sell worldwide in large numbers to piano students, and are therefore expected to be thoroughly and professionally checked. But there is worse, as you will see in my text: for example, supposed “Handel-scholars” misinterpret some mordent signs as trills, and the suggested fingerings in these editions imply that all the trills are played starting from the main note …