Handel's investment in the slave trade
David Hunter talks about recent research. Location: Fine Arts Library, DFA 4.104
Over the last 15 years or so, scholars in other areas of the arts (e.g., art, architecture, landscape design) have been considering how much of our heritage is beholden to profits from the slave trade and plantations, and working out ways of coming to terms with that legacy. Regrettably, the topic has been ignored or avoided by musicologists, in particular those who study Handel, despite the fact that it has long been known that Handel invested in one slave trading company, the South Sea Company. In 2013 I have uncovered evidence that he also invested in another, the Royal African Company. In addition to exposing the facts of Handel's investments and the deliberate obfuscation by scholars, I highlight numerous ironies, the most poignant being that of Handel biographer Victor Schoelcher. His volume, published in 1857, was the first to utilize archival materials, including the conducting scores. Schoelcher was responsible for ending slavery in the French colonies in 1848.