Biography and History

James S. Hall (1899-1975) was a surgeon by profession but an ardent Handel scholar and collector by avocation. In addition to the Handel scores and libretti the Princeton University Library acquired Hall's correspondence with performers, composers, conductors, scholars and other collectors of his heyday, the 1950s and 60s. As the founder and manager of the Deal and Walmer Handelian Society, Hall was responsible for arranging performances of Handel's works, for public celebrations of Handel's achievements, such as the mounting of the plaque in Dublin on the hall where Messiah received its world premiere, and for representing English Handel lovers at festivals in honor of Handel's memory, especially those in the Handel town of Halle in the former East Germany. At the time of those festivals, travel to East Germany was complicated by Communist bureaucracy, the paper trail of which is preserved in the collection. Hall was also consulted during work on the Hallesche Handelausgabe, the standard edition in German of Handel's works, because of his authority as a Handel scholar. Because of these connections with Handel scholars in Germany, some of the material in the collection is in German. A Roman Catholic, Hall was interested in Handel's knowledge of Latin Church music and his use of it in his own compositions, especially during the period he was known to have spent in Italy. Hall published on this topic as well as on Handel's use of grace notes, in the context of his larger interest in the history of Handel performance.

Source: From the finding aid for C0640


  • Copyists -- England..