Balfour Handel Collection


Balfour Handel Collection


The collection of first and other early editions of the works of George Frideric Handel [Georg Friedrich Händel] (1685-1759), consisting of circa 500 printed music scores and over 100 libretti, formed by the famous music collector Julian Marshall (1836-1903). Marshall was a man of many interests. His publications include books on tennis and related games, and a 'Handbook of Engravers of Ornament' (1869). He also collected books on card-games, and a catalogue of his collection of bookplates was published in 1906. The collection was subsequently acquired in 1876 by Arthur J Balfour (1848-1930), later Prime Minister of Great Britain. Handel was Balfour's favourite composer. He not only financed a performance of Handel's 'Belshazzar' at the Albert Hall, he also allowed the Handel Society to rehearse at his London home. Additions continue to be made to the collection, including the more important foreign works relating to the composer.


The books have been catalogued individually and have the shelfmark 'BH.'.


After Arthur J Balfour's death in 1930, the Handel collection remained intact at Whittinghame, the family seat in East Lothian, Scotland. The collection was purchased by the Library from the Trustees of the Balfour estate in 1938, having been sold on the advice of the Handel scholar William C Smith.


'A Handelian's notebook', WC Smith, London, 1965.

'Handel: A Descriptive Catalogue of the Early Editions', 2nd edition with supplement, WC Smith, Oxford, 1970.

'Julian Marshall and the British Museum: music collecting in the later nineteenth-century,' A Searle, British Library Journal, vol. 11, no. 1 (1985), 67-87.

'The National Library of Scotland: music manuscripts and special collections of printed music', TA Cherry, R Duce, M Simpson and I Maciver, Fontes Artis Musicae, Vol. 47, No. 1 (January-March 2000), 3-9.




Händel, Georg