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Handel: The Man & His Music: The Man and His Music  

This is an enlightening and interesting book to read with plenty of detail about the composers life plus some anecdotal material. Recommended to anyone interested in the music of Handel and the English and European society of the 17th and 18th century.

 

 

Handel (Master Musicians Series)  

Donald Burrows new biography of Handel related two crucial points in his career. Firstly the transition from church trained musician in germany into the successful operatic composer in London, and later the gradual transformation from opera to oratorio, incorporating his large scale dramatic constructional experience with his former training in religious music.There are interesting accounts of Handel's life and the places he lived.


 
 

 

HANDEL a brief Biography

Handel was trained in Italy before settling in London and becoming a naturalised British subject.His works include Messiah, Water Music, and Music for the Royal Fireworks. He was influenced by the Italian Baroque composers and by the English composer Henry Purcell.Handel's music was well known to many other composers, amongst them, Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven.

In early childhood, Handel’s obvious musical talent was not encouraged and his father wanted him to study law, but he managed to practice on a spinet given to him by his aunt, in his attic room.. He studied with a local organist in Halle, Germany, but at the same time obeyed his fathers wishes and enrolled at the University. However, when the father died, Handel began serving as organist at the Domkirche in Halle.  Later he accepted a post as violinist and harpsichordist in the Hamburg opera orchestra, but soon felt the need to escape the provinciality of northern Germany. 
In 1706 he headed for Italy, where he spent more than three years, perfecting his technique in setting Italian words to music.  Rodrigo, his first immature, but all-Italian opera, was produced in the Cocomero theatre in Florence in 1707, and having had operas, oratorios or cantatas performed in Florence, Rome, Naples and Venice he returned to Germany to become Kapellmeister to George, Elector of Hanover, who would soon be King George I of England. Handel followed the King to England.

 In 1712, Handel decided to settle permanently in England. He received a yearly income of £200 from Queen Anne after composing for her the Utrecht te Deum performed in 1713 . Through the 1720s he composed Italian operas for London stages. 
During the 1730s, as the public began to lose interest in his work and so Handel moved between writing Italian opera and English forms like the oratorio or the ode to attract new audiences. 
Handel focused on composing oratorios instead of opera. His Messiah was first performed at the New Music Hall inFishamble Street, Dublin, on 13 April 1742, with 26 boys and five men from the combined choirs of St Patrick's and Christ Church cathedrals participating.

In 1749 he composed Music for the Royal Fireworks; 12,000 people attended the performance.

In 1750 Handel arranged a performance of Messiah to benefit the Foundling Hospital. The performance was considered a great success and was followed by annual concerts that continued throughout his life. In recognition of his patronage, Handel was made a governor of the Hospital the day after his initial concert. He bequeathed a copy of Messiah to the institution upon his death. 

In August 1750, on a journey back from Germany to London, Handel was seriously injured in a carriage accident. In 1751 his eyesight started to fail in one eye. The cause was a cataract which was operated on by the great charlatan Chevalier Taylor. This led to uveitis and subsequent loss of vision. 

Jephtha was first performed on 26 February 1752; even though it was his last oratorio, it was no less a masterpiece than his earlier works. He died some eight years later in 1759 in London, at the age of 74, with his last attended performance being his own Messiah. More than three thousand mourners attended his funeral, which was given full state honours, and he was buried in Westminster Abbey.

Handel never married, and kept his personal life private. He left a sizable estate at his death, worth £20,000, the bulk of which he bequeathed to a niece in Germany, with additional gifts to his other relations, servants, friends and favourite charities.

 

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