In the first decades of the eighteenth century, London was one of the most important European music centres.
There was a rich courtly life as well as a great deal of music-making among the bourgeoisie. Just like Amsterdam, London was a hub of music pub- lishers and instrument builders. London’s musical life had a strong Italian orientation. It was mainly the Italian composers who were suc- cessful there, especially Arcangelo Corelli. Although his oeuvre is lim- ited to instrumental music and only has six opus numbers, his influence was considerable. For example, the London-based Italian Francesco Geminiani made orchestral arrange- ments of Corelli’s violin sonatas opus 5. Geminiani’s Concerti grossi opus
1 and Corelli’s own Concerti grossi opus 6 were published in many differ- ent arrangements.
Born in Halle, Germany, composer George Frideric Handel started in his hometown as an organist, and settled more or less permanently in London in 1717. By then he already had a career in Italy, where he was very suc- cessful as a young composer and kept company with the likes of Alessandro and Domenico Scarlatti. Handel saw himself primarily as a composer of vocal music. He had written several operas, which had been performed to much acclaim in Italy and Germany. His first opera, Almira, which has Italian as well as German arias and recitatives, was premiered as early as 1705 in Hamburg. In Italy he learned a great deal about opera from Alessandro Scarlatti, and audiences in that country were wildly enthusiastic about his operas.