The Handel and Haydn Bicentennial 1815–2015

Bringing music to life for 200 years

In the early 19th century, a small group of music lovers in Boston recognized the importance of excellent music to the well-being and civic life of our young democracy. They formed the Handel and Haydn Society, named for the two giants of the Baroque and Classical eras, and representing the “old” and the “new.”

H+H’s first concert, in 1815, featured excerpts from Handel’s Messiah and Haydn’s The Creation. H+H introduced many of the greatest choral masterworks to Americans — works like MessiahThe Creation, Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, Mozart’s Requiem, and several more Handel oratorios — and contributed to the development of classical music in this country. H+H was also present at many of the singular moments in American history, including performances at state memorial services for Presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson in 1825, Abraham Lincoln in 1865, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1945.

Today, H+H is considered America’s oldest continuously performing arts organization and a national leader in both music performance and education.

The Bicentennial celebrates the rich history and vibrant future of this remarkable institution. Festivities commence in the fall of 2014 with the opening of H+H’s 200th season and continue through December 2015, including performances of works H+H premiered in the US, exhibits of historical materials, free concerts, commemorative products, lectures and symposia, and more.

Bicentennial activities at a glance

Historical Highlights

Browse our online performance database

For information or to learn more about opportunities for involvement, please contact Emily Reed, Director of Bicentennial and Community Engagement, at [email protected] or 617 262 1815.