Handel


George Frederick Handel (1685 1759) was a German born, English composer.

Handel and Johann Sebastian Bach were the last of the Baroque Masters. During
his lifetime, Handel was known mainly as an opera composer and producer, but his
fame today came mainly on his English oratories, especially The Messiah (1742).

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His music has strength and simplicity. Handels operas are not often heard,
but Largo, an aria from Serse, and other selections are sometimes played
in concerts. Handel was born in Halle and attended the University of Halle as a
student of law due to his fathers wishes. During his education there his
interest in music awakened and this was aided by the three years of lessons
given to him by an organ player Wilhelm Zachow. In 1697 Handels father died,
and no longer being subject to his wishes, Handel left Halle and went to Hamburg
as a violin player in an orchestra. This spoiled his chances of becoming a
lawyer but improved his chances of success as an artist. Young Handel became a
skilled organist and harpsichordist, and after playing with an opera company in
Hamburg went to Italy in 1706 to study opera. In 1710 Handel became court music
director for the elector of Hanover. He immediately afterwards took a leave of
absence and visited London for six months. He returned to London in 1712. His
patron was crowned King of England in 1714 and Handel remained, becoming a
British subject in 1726. For more than 15 years Handel composed and produced
Italian opera in London. Following the success of The Beggars Opera (1728),
by Gay and Pepusch, Italian opera lost favor and Handel turn to oratorios.

George Frederick Handel eventually became blind, much like J. S. Bach, and died
in 1759.


Bibliography
George Frederick HandelEncyclopedia Britannica Inc. The New
Encyclopedia Britannica. Chicago, IL: Encyclopedia Britannica Inc., 1991.

Anonymous epitaph, printed in a newspaper on 21 April 1759
Music and Musicians

Handel


George Friedrich Handel was one of the most accomplished Baroque composers in
his time. Born in Halle, Germany in 1685, he was the son of a wealthy barber who
wanted his son to become a lawyer. However, he displayed such musical aptitude
with the harpsichord, organ, oboe, counterpoint and fugue, he became an
assistant with Friedrich Zachav, organist of the cathedral of Halle. However,
Handel entered the University of Halle, but quickly withdrew, and left for the
University of Hamburg, to study music. In 1706, Handel journeyed to Italy to
further enhance his music. While there, he was greatly influenced by Alessandro
Scarlatti and Arcangelo Corelli. Then in 1710, Handel was appointed
“Kapellmeister,” or Musical Director, to the Elector of Hanover, and
received a commission to write an opera for London. Italian opera was all the
rage in London, and Handels soon became a quick success. However, Handel
greatly longed for being in England, and returned in 1712. London provided a
generous audience for Handel, and from 1712 to 1741 he produced thirty-six
operas. In 1713, Te Deum and a Jubilate was performed by Handel at St. Pauls
Cathedral, London, to celebrate the Peace of Utrecht. Queen Anne also granted
Handel a handsome lifetime pension of two hundred pounds per year. Including
Water Music, for George I, which was first performed in 1715 on the Thames at
London. While most of Handels operas were based on either historical,
mythological, or legendary subjects, Serse, was one of his rare endeavors into
comedy. Handels operas were all sung in Italian, and adhere to the musical
conventions of the day. There is little use of choruses or large ensembles,
since one of the main objectives of this genre, called opera seria, is the
demonstration of vocal ability by individual singers. Also, for 18th century
audiences, the main attraction in Handels operas lay in the incredible feats
of the castrati, male singers whose soprano voices had been surgically
preserved from childhood. These artists combined the soprano voices of women and
the lung power of men, producing singers whose vocal feats became legendary. In
England, Handel tried to start opera companies on a number of occasions, but
these attempts to become a music executive failed miserably. On account the
gradual decline in popularity of Italian opera in England, Handel turned to
writing oratorios, which became the preferred taste. These works, sung in
English, take their texts from the Bible. Handels most famous oratorio, his
best-known work in any genre, is Messiah, written in 1742. In addition to operas
and oratorios, he wrote passions, secular choral pieces, anthems, cantatas,
chamber sonatas, harpsichord suites, concerti, and orchestral pieces. Beyond
composition, Handel was the first the real businessman in the world of music. He
had a hand in organizing opera companies, obtaining financial support, and
finding singers. He was also in constant demand at parties where he entertained
guests with his lusty personality and exceptional abilities the keyboard. Of all
composers, Handel was probably the most esteemed and appreciated in his own
time. He rose to a position of the highest eminence in the musical world. His
oratorios were the toast of the country, and of the continent as well. Toward
the end of his life, Handel was plagued by ill health. From 1753, he was totally
blind, though this did not stop his activities altogether. He died in 1759, and
was buried with full state honors in Westminster Abbey.


Bibliography
“Classics World Biography: George Frederich Handel.” 1997:Online.

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Internet. October 4 1998. Available WWW: http:://classicalmus.com/composers/handel.html
Brimhall, John. My Favorite Classics. Miami Beach, FL.: Chas. H. Hansen Music
Corp., 1969. “Handel, George Frideric.” The Concise Columbia
Encyclopedia. 1995.

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