Genius Lived on Brook Street

“Whether I was in my body or out of my body I know not.
God knows it!” – George Frideric Handel

“My goal is to be one with the music. I just dedicate my whole life to this art.” –Jimi Hendrix

One of the biggest surprises we uncovered in our recent visit to London was the Handel Hendrix House. This is a combination of George Frideric Handel’s townhouse and the top floor apartment next door where Jimi Hendrix lived more than two hundred years later. Who knew??

Handel, one of the greatest composers of the Baroque era, came to London at age 27 and soon became established as a successful composer of opera, oratorio and organ concertos. He lived alone but used his home for composing and rehearsing with various singers and musicians. He would invite potential patrons to attend rehearsals as previews for works not yet published. He rented the house on Brook Street for many years and died there in 1759 at age 74.

Handel's bedroom at 25 Brook Street, London. Photo by J. Emmons

Handel’s bedroom at 25 Brook Street, London. Photo by J. Emmons

One comment about the bed on display in his room was that the bed might look short to modern eyes. In Handel’s day it was believed that sleeping sitting up aided digestion. Handel loved good food and probably needed help overcoming acid reflux while digesting the morsels which made him such a large man.

As they say on Monty Python, “now for something completely different”!

In an entirely different age and society, Jimi Hendrix spent part of two years of his short life living in an apartment in the building adjacent to Handel’s home. The Handel Hendrix Museum provides a good overview of Hendrix’ life and career.

Jimi Hendrix bedroom redolent of 1969 Photo by J. Emmons

Jimi Hendrix bedroom redolent of 1969 Photo by J. Emmons

There is a video summarizing his musical progress. Because his father was superstitious of anything left-handed, Jimi turned the guitar upside-down and used his right hand for fingering the frets. A bedroom is decorated as it was in Jimi’s day, using ‘artifacts’ from the era; only the mirror was actually his. Widely regarded now as one of pop music’s greatest guitarists, Jimi burned brightly before his untimely death in another London flat just months shy of his 28th birthday, just the age Handel was when he arrived in London.

In the video below things get really interesting at about 2:45.

How many cities have time-warp juxtapositions like this? Given enough years, unexpected combinations are bound to occur. But having two extraordinarily gifted musicians separated by a wall and 210 years makes me wonder if something else was going on.

Boundaries divide. Travel unites.

4 August 2016

About Travel Unites

A travel agent since 1994, I want people to get together for greater understanding across boundaries.
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