Of London's London's many tiny museums, one of the least appreciated is the Handel House Museum in Mayfair. The building, where Handel lived between 1723 and 1759, was beautifully restored four years ago, and now contains a lovely collection of historical artifacts, manuscripts, paintings and decorative items relating to George Frederic Handel and his world. There are also temporary exhibitions — at the moment a collection of photographs of Jimi Hendrix, who, through a bizarre coincidence, lived in Handel's house in 1968-69. Well worth a visit.
Perhaps the most exciting thing about the museum, however, is the live music. Every Thursday at 6:30 in the evening there is a short concert, usually featuring music of Handel and his contemporaries, although sometime not (in the case of their "Hardly Handel" series). What makes these concerts special, of course, is the space. Not only the little thrill of listening to music in the room that Handel was known to have composed and rehearsed in ("Look!" we said to ourselves, "That must be the very window that Handel threatened to throw the diminutive soprano Francesca Cuzzoni out of!"), but also because the room is extremely small — they sell only 29 tickets for each concert, and no one is more than ten feet away from the performers.
We must admit, the last of these concerts we attended was... well, it wasn't very good. Okay, it was pretty awful — precisely because the performers hadn't thought enough about the unique possibilities that performing in a very small room could provide. (Well, that, and one of the performers couldn't quite get all the notes out on his instruments...) But we assume that that was a fluke. Upcoming concerts that sound promising include the four-piece ensemble Pelllegrina performing love songs on November 3, the instrumental trio Musica Artis Omnia on November 17, and a lecture-performance on the life and music of Handel's collaborator Richard Leveridge on December 1.
Tickets are £7.50 (£6 concessions). Early booking is recommended.