- Collection Overview
- Collection Description & Creator Information
- Access & Use
- Collection History
- Find Related Materials
- Princeton University. Library. Special Collections and Hall, James S.
- James S. Hall Collection of George Frideric Handel
- Manuscripts Division
- Permanent URL:
- 1714-1968 (mostly 1946-1968)
- 12 boxes and 29 items
- Storage Note:
- Firestone Library (mss): Box 1-12
- English German
Consists (primarily) of manuscripts of works by Handel and his contemporaries but also of correspondence and subject files gathered by James S. Hall, the English surgeon who collected most of the manuscripts.
Collection Description & Creator Information
The James S. Hall Collection of George Frideric Handel includes twenty-nine volumes of musical manuscripts of Handel by various 18th-century copyists, mainly anonymous but some identified, most of them collected by James S. Hall, a surgeon by profession and a Handel scholar and collector by avocation. Included are manuscripts of Belshazzar (circa 1744), the nearest in relation to Handel since it is entirely in the hand of John Christopher Smith, Sr., Handel's chief copyist and amanuensis; Alexander Balus (circa 1748) by the copyist "S5", so called by scholar Jens Peter Larson; Joseph, also written by S5; Israel in Egypt (circa 1760) in various hands; Odes for St. Cecilia's Day (1739) and Queen Anne's Birthday (1714), one volume in the hand of several copyists; Te Deum (before 1780), in unidentified hand; the Ayelsford Collection, a set of miscellaneous manuscripts; Messiah and Coronation Anthems, part-book for a bass; a fair copy of Alexanders-Fest, oder, Die Gewalt der Musik . . . (1766-1770); and an English manuscript of the opera Berenice, in the hand of Handel's copyist S2, from the library of Charles Jennens, Handel's patron and librettist of Messiah, and annotated by him.
Other manuscripts include a volume of operatic arias (circa 1738-1743) containing music of Handel and other composers; a folio manuscript book including two Handel pieces; and a photostat of a printed version of Israel in Babylon (1765), a potpourri of Handel's works and some unidentified music. The collection also contains festival medals, portraits of Handel, and prints of city views and churches associated with the composer, as well as an original issue of the London Chronicle, an 18th-century newspaper that reported Handel's burial in Westminster Abbey, and an original watercolor by Thomas Hosmer Shepherd, showing a performance of a Handel oratorio at Convent Garden before its 1808 fire. In addition, the papers of James S. Hall are comprised of correspondence, including letters by Benjamin Britten, counter-tenor Alfred Deller, harpsichordist Thurston Dart, Handel collectors Sir Newman Flower and William Charles Smith, and various other composers, performers, scholars and collectors, as well as subject files, including articles by Hall and material relating to Handel festivals and societies, especially the Deal and Walmer Handelian Society which he founded in 1946.
For a more descriptive look at the collection, see: Knapp, J. Merrill. "The Hall Handel Collection," Princeton University Library Chronicle, Vol. XXXVI, No. 1 [Autumn, 1974], pp. 3-18.
Arranged in 7 series: 1. Manuscripts of Handel's Works and Works by Contemporary Composers; 2: Correspondence of James S. Hall; 3: James S. Hall as Handel Scholar: 4. James S. Hall as Handel Collector; 5. Handel Societies and Festivals; 6. Miscellaneous Handel Material; 7. Non-Handel Material Relating to James Hall.
- Collection Creator Biography:
Hall, James S.
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.
This collection of manuscripts is part of a larger collection containing 425 volumes of printed music from 1714 through the mid-19th century. The main portion of this collection, which was assembled by James S. Hall, was acquired by private sale in 1974 . Since 2005, the library has occasionally purchased additional manuscripts of Handel's works from other sources; the provenance of these additions is noted in the descriptions of those items.
- Archival Appraisal Information:
No appraisal information is available.
- Processing Information:
This collection was processed by Margaret Sherry Rich and Teresa T. Basler in 2002. New material was added to the finding aid by John Delaney in 2005, 2011, and 2013, and by Kelly Bolding in 2019.
Access & Use
- Access Restrictions:
Series I, Manuscripts of Handel's Works and Works by Contemporary Composers, is stored in special vault facilities. Consult staff for access.
- Conditions for Reproduction and Use:
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.
- Credit this material:
James S. Hall Collection of George Frideric Handel; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library
- Permanent URL:
- Firestone LibraryOne Washington RoadPrinceton, NJ 08544, USA(609) 258-3184
- Subject Terms:
- Collectors and collecting -- England -- 20th century.
Composers -- England -- 18th century -- Manuscripts.
Copyists -- England.
Coronation music -- England -- 18th century.
English newspapers -- 18th century.
Music -- England -- 18th century.
- Genre Terms:
Musical scores -- England.
- Deal and Walmer Handelian Society
Händel, George Frideric, 1685-1759