Concert with commentary: William Herschel, the Astronomer Composer
The 2012 winner of the Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement, Yaël Nazé, will be providing scientific commentaries on a special concert of works by the astronomer and composer, William Herschel, performed by the Chamber Orchestra of Liège on 14th May at the Théâtre de Liège.
William Herschel was born in Hanover in 1738. To fulfil military obligations he emigrated to Engalnd, and finally settled there permanently during the Seven Years War. An excellent musician, renowned soloist (violin, oboe, organ), he became Director of Public Concerts in Bath. Herschel was also a respected composer who wrote symphonies, concertos, sonatas and religious music, in a style between Mozart and Haendel. He is responsible for some 40 works, mainly composed during 1759 and 1770.
In parallel, he was passionately interested in astronomy and made numerous observations, together with his sister Caroline, initially using a rented telescope and later through instruments that he built from 1776 onwards. Thanks to these meticulous observations, Herschel discovered a new planet in 1781: Uranus. This discovery earned him a position from King George III that allowed him to focus solely on astronomy. In 1785, he discovered two satellites of Uranus, Titania and Oberon, and in 1787, two satellites of Saturn, Mimas and Enceladus. Along with his sister, Herschel was the author of several catalogues of double stars and nebulae.