Liquid Assets - Handel's Finances


20091227BBC business correspondent Peter Day looks at Handel's extraordinary success on the stock market as well as examining the financial matters involved in putting on operas and oratorios in 18th-century London.

Handel speculated in the newly formed London stock market throughout his life in the capital.

Strikingly, he put money into South Sea stock in 1716 when prices were low and had sold up by 1720 when the South Sea credit bubble burst in one of the great financial cataclysms in fiscal history.

Many others lost fortunes, including Sir Isaac Newton, warden of the Royal Mint.

The composer profited handsomely and, while others shied away from the uncertainties of speculation, he continued to invest throughout his life.

From 1744, Handel's investments just grew and grew.

Talking to Handel experts and financial historians, Peter Day enters the tough economics of 18th-century music-making and visits the Bank of England to see the composer's extravagant signature on numerous ledgers as he traded annuities.

BBC business correspondent Peter Day looks at Handel's financial dealings.