These variations are among Handel’s best-known keyboard works. The composer was allegedly inspired to create its unusual theme when, seeking refuge in a smithy’s shop from a sudden rain-shower, he heard the blacksmith singing a cheerful melody to the sound of his anvil. Handel used the theme with five variations as the closing movement of his fifth keyboard suite, which he published in 1720. With its catchy theme, the Harmonious Blacksmith variations enjoyed increasing popularity thereafter, including as an independent piece.
The edition presented here uses Handel’s edition of the Suite as its main source (since he definitely checked it personally), along with the available manuscript sources.