About this work
Although he was a music composer not a music publisher, Handel undertook to issue his first volume of keyboard suites himself in London in 1720. He did so because as he wrote in the preface, "surrepticious and incorrect Copies of them had got Abroad" or, to put it more bluntly, Jeanne Roger of Amsterdam had pirated the scores and was making money off of them without paying Handel any royalties. Many of the suites were intended to be didactic pieces, teaching students keyboard technique while amusing them with cheerful melodies and pleasant harmonies. The Suite in F sharp minor is not one of those suites. Rather, it is a darkly tragic piece in four intense movements: an opening Prelude of enormous range and power, a brooding Largo in triple-time with huge chords and demonic trills, and a gigantic Fuga marked Allegro that simply starts with a descending theme but adds voice after voice of counterpoint to culminate in a stark Adagio cadence in seven voices. The closing Gigue, marked Presto, twists and winds through tightly argued modulations to a final, bleak cadence.