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By Stanley Sadie, Anthony Hicks (eds.)

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There are various reasons why we are in a better position than ever before to begin to grapple with some longstanding source problems. Certainly the situation is far different from that in 1960 (to take the midpoint between two Handel commemorations). A detailed historical basis for tracing the textual development of eighteen oratorios is available from Winton Dean's Handel's Dramatic Oratorios and Masques (1959), and to this we must add Watkins Shaw's Textual and Historical Companion to Handel's 'Messiah' (1965).

Although the Handel manuscripts form to some extent a discrete section of the Aylesford collection, a survey of Jennens's complete musical library is overdue. This is largely a matter of putting together the collective experience of those who have worked on various aspects of the collection. Extending the view further, the resources of the forthcoming Handel catalogue may be seen as a contribution to a more general study of eighteenth-century music papers. Handel's autographs of 1707-9 need to be put into the context of eighteenth-century Italian papers: there is, for example, the possibility of some degree of continuity between Handel's papers and the later ones that Paul Everett investigated in the Ottoboni part books.

For this reason the presentation of movements in the HHA edition is being considered afresh with a view to comprehensiveness and comprehensibility. As an essential adjunct to this task, Baselt's catalogue gives us something to work from, to correct and to rearrange. The subject of thematic catalogues is of relevance in another area, one where there have recently been exciting developments in Handel studies. Following three-quarters of a century during which the dust has gradually settled on the controversy provoked by Sedley Taylor's book about Handel's borrowings from other composers/ the issue has suddenly come alive again as various scholars have disclosed a whole new range of compositional source materials, particularly from Telemann and Keiser.

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