Tuesday, December 24, 2019

"Handel and the Bank of England"

I mean it, I'm leaving.
But first, reposting and expanding this November 25 piece:

This link popped out of one of the feedreaders on November 8 and ended up in the link-vault because we do our own 'Handel and the Bank of England' post a bit closer to Christmas.
But then it showed up at naked capitalism and
Lo and Behold It's Professor Harris Herself!*

From the Bank of England's Bank Underground, November 8:
Ellen T. Harris
This guest post is the third of an occasional series of guest posts by external researchers who have used the Bank of England’s archives for their work on subjects outside traditional central banking topics. 
George Frideric Handel was a master musician — an internationally renowned composer, virtuoso performer, and music director of London’s Royal Academy of Music, one of Europe’s most prestigious opera houses. For musicologists, studying his life and works typically means engaging with his compositional manuscripts at The British Library, as well as the documents, letters, and newspapers that describe his interaction with royalty, relationships to others, and contemporary reaction to his music. But when I began to explore Handel’s personal accounts at the Bank of England twenty years ago, I was often asked why. For me the answer was always ‘follow the money’. Handel’s financial records provide a unique window on his career, musical environments, income, and even his health.

His early career
Inculcated with business savvy by his father (a courtier, barber surgeon, and wine dealer), Handel had already made a name for himself in Germany and Italy when he arrived in London in 1710. Earlier that year, at the age of twenty-five, he had been appointed Master of Music at the court of Hanover, but he was given leave to reside for long periods in England. A blip in his employment relating to Hanoverian displeasure with the Peace of Utrecht in 1713, and Handel’s celebration of it in the Utrecht Te Deum and Jubilate, allowed the composer to slip into the service of Queen Anne. She provided him with an annual pension of £200 (£25,000 at today’s prices), a handsome benefit George I immediately continued following the Hanoverian Succession.

The bursting of the South Sea Bubble
By at least mid-1715, Handel had the wherewithal to purchase £500 of South Sea Company shares, as we know from a note signed by him and dated 13 March 1715/16 that asks his dividend, being ‘Fifteen pounds on Five Hundred pounds, which is all my Stock in the South Sea Company books & for half a Year due at Christmas last’ (that is, Christmas 1715), be paid to a Mr Phillip Cooke’ (see Documents 1: 334). Thereafter the shares climbed sharply in value, before crashing in 1720 in one of the famous bubble episodes in financial history – the South Sea Bubble. Three years later, in a final resolution of the crisis, South Sea shareholders saw their accounts split 50/50 between equity shares in the company and annuity stock held by the Bank of England....
*The reason for the exultation? 
Way back on December 23, 2012 we posted "Hallelujah!: How Handel Orchestrated a Classic Financial Portfolio" :
....F.M. SCHERER: And the composers competed as freelances to have their -- compositions chosen to be operas.

PAUL SOLMAN: Handel, on royal retainer in London, jumped into the game, according to MIT musicologist Ellen Harris.

ELLEN HARRIS, MIT: His first opera is "Rinaldo," 1711, and it was a huge hit. He probably would have gotten a flat fee for writing the opera. And that probably was about 200 pounds. And he would have had a benefit night, so he could take the box office from that one night, could have brought in 500, 600 pounds....
Professor Harris wrote the definitive paper on Handel's finances, Handel the Investor, definitive that is until a BBC reporter made a startling find:
A chance discovery in a ledger at the Bank of England suggests the composer Handel may have been a smart financial operator.
How Handel played the markets.... 
Professor Harris came back with the new definitive paper:
Courting Gentility: Handel at the Bank of England
(23 page PDF)
And since then it's been a Holiday tradition:

Hallelujah: How Handel played the markets
Hallelujah: "Why Handel Never Went Baroque"
"Musicnomics Part II: Decline and Fall"
That, and his song with the big chorus....
All of which led to Do-it-yourself 'Messiah's' being performed around the world. 
Which can often result in some horrible sounds.

Not always though.
Here's a do-it-yourself version of the big Chorus done at a small college in Japan.
Sensei Jiro Tomonaga, music director, conducting first the choir and then the audience: