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George Frideric Handel

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George Frideric Handel

George Frideric Handel, born in 1685, the same year as Johann Sebastian Bach and Domenico Scarlatti. By Balthasar Denner (c. 1726–1728)

George Frideric (or Frederick) Handel (;[1] born Georg Friedrich Händel; German pronunciation: ;[2] (1685-02-23)23 February 1685 British coronation, traditionally during the sovereign's anointing. Handel composed more than forty operas in over thirty years, and since the late 1960s, with the revival of baroque music and historically informed musical performance, interest in Handel's operas has grown.


  • Early years 1
  • From Halle to Italy 2
  • Move to London 3
    • Cannons (1717–18) 3.1
    • Royal Academy of Music (1719–34) 3.2
    • Opera at Covent Garden (1734–41) 3.3
    • Oratorio 3.4
  • Later years 4
  • Works 5
    • Catalogues 5.1
  • Legacy 6
    • Reception 6.1
    • Borrowings 6.2
    • Homages 6.3
    • Veneration 6.4
    • Film 6.5
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9
    • Scores and recordings 9.1

Early years

Handel's baptismal registration (Marienbibliothek in Halle)

Handel was born in 1685 in

  • International Music Score Library Project: includes Complete Works Edition (Ausgabe der Deutschen Händelgesellschaft)
  • Choral Public Domain Library (ChoralWiki)
  • The Mutopia Project provides free downloading of sheet music and MIDI files for some of Handel's works.
  • Free typeset sheet music of Handel's works from
  • Handel cylinder recordings, from the Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project at the University of California, Santa Barbara Library.
  • Handel's Sheet Music by
  • Kunst der Fuge: George Frideric Handel – MIDI files

Scores and recordings

  • Edward Dent's Handel biography from Project Gutenberg
  • Works by George Frideric Handel at Project Gutenberg
  • The second volume of Winton Dean for "Handel's Operas" covering the years 1726–1741
  • Friedrich Chrysander's Handel biography (in German)
  • Biographical details web site
  • Handel Houses:
    • The Handel House Museum
    • The Händel-Haus in Halle, Saxony-Anhalt
  • Handel Reference Database
  • Handel material in the BBC Radio 3 archives
  • Howell, Ian. "How to Handle Spelling Händel". The Countertenor Voice (February 2011). 
  • Howell, Ian. "Guiding Handel's Legacy: An Interview with Handel House Museum Director Sarah Bardwell". The Countertenor Voice (May 2011). 

External links

  • Abraham, Gerald (1954). "Handel: a symposium". Oxford University Press 
  • Burrows, Donald (1997). The Cambridge Companion to Handel. Cambridge University Press.  
  • Bukofzer, Manfred F., Music in the Baroque Era – From Monteverdi To Bach, Read Books, UK, 2008 ISBN 1443726192 ISBN 9781443726191
  • Chrissochoidis, Ilias. "Early Reception of Handel's Oratorios, 1732–1784: Narrative – Studies – Documents" (PhD dissertation, Stanford University, 2004), available through UMI.
  • Chrissochoidis, Ilias. " Handel at a Crossroads: His 1737–1738 and 1738–1739 Seasons Re-Examined", Music & Letters 90/4 (November 2009), 599–635.
  • Chrissochoidis, Ilias. "Handel, Hogarth, Goupy: Artistic intersections in Handelian biography", Early Music 37/4 (November 2009), 577–596.
  • Chrissochoidis, Ilias. "'hee-haw ... llelujah': Handel among the Vauxhall Asses (1732)", Eighteenth-Century Music 7/2 (September 2010), 221–262.
  • Dean, Winton (2006). Handel's Operas, 1726–1741. The Boydell Press. 
  • Frosch, W. A., The "case" of George Frideric Handel, New England Journal of Medicine, 1989; 321:765–769, 14 September 1989.
  • Harris, Ellen T. (general editor) The librettos of Handel's operas: a collection of seventy librettos documenting Handel's operatic career New York: Garland, 1989. ISBN 0-8240-3862-2
  • Harris, Ellen T. Handel as Orpheus. Voice and Desire in the Chamber Cantatas Harvard University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-674-00617-8
  •   (subscription required)
  • Hicks, Anthony, (1998), "Handel, George Frederick" in Stanley Sadie, (Ed.), The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, Vol. Two, pp. 614—626. London: MacMillan Publishers, Inc. ISBN 0-333-73432-7 ISBN 1-56159-228-5
  • Hogwood, Christopher. Handel. London: Thames and Hudson, 1984. ISBN 0-500-01355-1
  • Keates, Jonathan. Handel, the man and his music. London: V. Gollancz, 1985. ISBN 0-575-03573-0
  • Larsen, J.P. (1972). Handel's Messiah. London: Adams and Charles Black Limited. 
  • Leopold, Silke (de). Händel die Opern Bärenreiter 2009, ISBN 978-3-7618-1991-3
  • McGeary, Thomas (2013). The Politics of Opera in Handel's Britain. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.  
  • Meynell, Hugo. The Art of Handel's Operas, The Edwin Mellen Press (1986) ISBN 0-88946-425-1
  • National Portrait Gallery. Handel. A Celebration of his Life and Times 1685–1759. 


  1. ^ "Handel" entry in
  2. ^ In Italy he signed his name "Hendel", as the German is pronounced.
  3. ^ Hicks, in Grove 1998, p. 614
  4. ^ "British Citizen by Act of Parliament: George Frideric Handel". 14 April 2009. Retrieved 13 April 2012. 
  5. ^ Dean, Winton (1969). Handel and the Opera Seria. University of California Press. p. 19.  
  6. ^ Bukofzer (2008), p. 337.
  7. ^ George J. Buelow (2004). "A History of Baroque Music". p. 476. Indiana University Press, 2004
  8. ^ Deutsch 1955, p. 1
  9. ^ Adams Aileen, K., Hofestadt, B., "Georg Handel (1622–97): the barber-surgeon father of George Frideric Handel (1685–1759)", Journal of Medical Biography, 2005, Aug; 13(3):142–49.
  10. ^ National Portrait Gallery, p. 51
  11. ^ Dent 2004, pp. 3–4
  12. ^ Friedrich Chrysander states it was not his half-brother but the 10-years older (!) nephew, who had to address George Friedrich as his uncle.
  13. ^ Weissenfels is 34 km south of Halle; a one-way trip on foot would have taken them about seven hours. As they went by coach they travelled faster. For more details see: The life of Handel by Victor Schoelcher,
  14. ^ a b c d Philip J. Bone, The Guitar and Mandolin, biographies of celebrated players and composers for these instruments, London: Schott and Co., 1914.
  15. ^ Keates 1985, pp. 17–18
  16. ^ Burrows 1994, p. 18
  17. ^ Burrows 1994, p. 19
  18. ^ Handel as Orpheus: voice and desire in the chamber cantatas by Ellen T. Harris,
  19. ^ Burrows 1994, pp. 29–30
  20. ^ Dean & Knapp 1987, p. 129
  21. ^ Burrows 1994, p. 38
  22. ^ Dean & Knapp 1987, pp. 173, 180
  23. ^ National Portrait Gallery, p. 88
  24. ^ There is a tantalising suggestion by Handel's biographer, Jonathan Keates, that he may have come to London in 1710 and settled in 1712 as a spy for the eventual Hanoverian successor to Queen Anne.
  25. ^ National Portrait Gallery, p. 92
  26. ^ Dean & Knapp 1987, pp. 286
  27. ^ Burrows 1994, p. 77
  28. ^ Bukofzer (2008), pp. 333–35
  29. ^ Rolland, R. (1910) Händel, p. 54. Beroemde musici. Deel XVIII.
  30. ^ Dean & Knapp 1987, p. 209
  31. ^ Deutsch 1955, pp. 70–71
  32. ^ Handel's Finances, BBC
  33. ^ Deutsch 1955, p. 89
  34. ^ Dean 2006, p. 226 According to Dean they could not have reached London before 1716. In 1743, Smith wrote in a letter that he had been in Handel's service for 24 years.
  35. ^ Burrows 1994, p. 387
  36. ^ In 2000, the upper stories of 25 Brook Street were leased to the Handel House Trust, and after extensive restoration, the Handel House Museum opened to the public with an events programme of baroque music.
  37. ^ Deutsch 1955, p. 194
  38. ^ Imogen Levy (2 June 1953). "Guide to the Coronation Service". Westminster Abbey. Retrieved 28 May 2012. 
  39. ^ Longest running Plays in London and New York", Stage Beauty""". 
  40. ^ theatrical monopoly in Banham, Martin The Cambridge guide to theatre pp. 1105 (Cambridge University Press, 1995) ISBN 0-521-43437-8
  41. ^ Handel's Compositions, Retrieved 21 December 2007
  42. ^ , Hardpress Publishing, (2010), ISBN 978-1407651415HandelDent, Edward J.,
  43. ^ Dent 2004, p. 33
  44. ^ "Synopsis of Arianna in Creta". Handel House Museum. Retrieved 23 July 2014. 
  45. ^ Dean 2006, pp. 274–284
  46. ^ Dean 2006, p. 288
  47. ^ Burrows 1994, p. 395
  48. ^ Dean 2006, p. 283
  49. ^ For new insights on this episode, see Ilias Chrissochoidis: "Handel Recovering: Fresh Light on his Affairs in 1737", Eighteenth-Century Music 5/2 (2008): 237–44.
  50. ^ a b c Hicks 2013.
  51. ^ Marx, J.H. (1998) Händels Oratorien, Oden und Serenaten, p. 243.
  52. ^ National Portrait Gallery, p. 157
  53. ^ Larsen 1972, p. 15 Handels Messiah. A distinguished authority on Handel discusses the origins, composition, and sources of one of the great choral works of western civilization.
  54. ^ Larsen 1972, p. 26
  55. ^ Marx, J.H. (1998) Händels Oratorien, Oden und Serenaten, p. 48.
  56. ^ Larsen 1972, p. 66
  57. ^ Larsen 1972, p. 49
  58. ^ Larsen 1972, p. 40
  59. ^ Larsen 1972, p. 33
  60. ^ Burrows, Donald (2012). Handel (Master Musicians Series). Oxford University Press, USA; 2 edition. p. 217.  
  61. ^ Larsen 1972, p. 37
  62. ^ National Portrait Gallery, p. 165
  63. ^ Larsen 1972, pp. 16, 39–41
  64. ^ Larsen 1972, p. 78
  65. ^ Dent 2004, pp. 40–41
  66. ^ Young 1966, p. 48
  67. ^ Burrows 1994, pp. 354–55
  68. ^ Burrows 1994, pp. 297–98
  69. ^ Young 1966, p. 56
  70. ^ Dent 2004, p. 63
  71. ^ Young 1966, p. 60
  72. ^ The Letters and Writings of George Frideric Handel by Erich H. Müller, 1935 (SBN 8369-5286-3)
  73. ^ a b "Handel as art collector – Thomas McGeary". 1 February 2012. Retrieved 13 April 2012. 
  74. ^ Textbook in CD Sacred Arias with Harp & Harp Duets by Rachel Ann Morgan & Edward Witsenburg.
  75. ^ Winton Dean, The New Grove Handel. NY: Norton, 1982, p. 116. ISBN 0-393-30086-2.
  76. ^ The Halle Handel Edition. "A short history of editing Handel". Retrieved 3 December 2011. 
  77. ^ Best, Terence, ed. Handel collections and their history, a collection of conference papers given by the international panel of distinguished Handel scholars. Clarendon Press, 1993
  78. ^ Prince Hoare, ed. (1820). Memoirs of Granville Sharp. Colburn. p. XII. ...he had a voluminous collection of Handel's scores... 
  79. ^ p 239. Handel, a celebration of his life and times, 1685–1759. Jacob Simon, National Portrait Gallery (Great Britain), 1985.
  80. ^ "BBC Press Release". 13 January 2009. Retrieved 13 April 2012. 
  81. ^ Dent 2004, p. 23
  82. ^ a b  
  83. ^ Richard Taruskin, The Oxford History of Western Music, Oxford University Press, 2005, vol. 2, chapter 26, p. 329, ISBN 0195222717
  84. ^ Alexander Silbiger, "Scarlatti Borrowings in Handel's Grand Concertos", The Musical Times, v. 125, 1984, pp. 93–94
  85. ^ A comprehensive bibliography through 2005 can be found in Mary Anne Parker, G. F. Handel: A Guide to Research, Routledge, 2005, ISBN 1136783598, pp. 114.135
  86. ^ John H. Roberts, "Why Did Handel Borrow?", in Handel: Tercentary Collection, edited by Stanley Sadie and Anthony Hicks, Royal Musical Association, 1985, pp. 83–92, ISBN 0-8357-1833-6
  87. ^ For All the Saints: A Calendar of Commemorations for United Methodists, ed. by Clifton F. Guthrie (Order of Saint Luke Publications, 1995, ISBN 1-878009-25-7) p. 161.



See also

In 1942, Handel was the subject of the British technicolor.


Handel is honoured with a feast day on 28 July in the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church, with Johann Sebastian Bach and Henry Purcell. In the Lutheran Calendar of Saints Handel and J.S. Bach share that date with Heinrich Schütz, and Handel and Bach are commemorated in the calendar of saints prepared by The Order of Saint Luke for the use of the United Methodist Church.[87]


After Handel's death, many composers wrote works based on or inspired by his music. The first movement from Louis Spohr's Symphony No. 6, Op. 116, "The Age of Bach and Handel", resembles two melodies from Handel's Messiah. In 1797 Ludwig van Beethoven published the 12 Variations in G major on ‘See the conqu’ring hero comes’ from Judas Maccabaeus by Handel, for cello and piano. In 1822 Beethoven composed The Consecration of the House overture, which also bears the influence of Handel. Guitar virtuoso Mauro Giuliani composed his Variations on a Theme by Handel, Op. 107 for guitar, based on Handel's Suite No. 5 in E major, HWV 430, for harpsichord. In 1861, using a theme from the second of Handel's harpsichord suites, Johannes Brahms wrote the Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, Op. 24, one of his most successful works (praised by Richard Wagner). Several works by the French composer Félix-Alexandre Guilmant use Handel's themes, for example his March on a Theme by Handel uses a theme from Messiah. French composer and flautist Philippe Gaubert wrote his Petite marche for flute and piano based on the fourth movement of Handel's Trio Sonata, Op. 5, No. 2, HWV 397. Argentine composer Luis Gianneo composed his Variations on a Theme by Handel for piano. In 1911, Australian-born composer and pianist Percy Grainger based one of his most famous works on the final movement of Handel's Suite No. 5 in E major (just like Giuliani). He first wrote some variations on the theme, which he titled Variations on Handel's 'The Harmonious Blacksmith' . Then he used the first sixteen bars of his set of variations to create Handel in the Strand, one of his most beloved pieces, of which he made several versions (for example, the piano solo version from 1930). Arnold Schoenberg's Concerto for String Quartet and Orchestra in B-flat major (1933) was composed after Handel's Concerto Grosso, Op. 6/7.

Handel Commemoration in Westminster Abbey, 1784


In an essay published in 1985, John H. Roberts demonstrated that Handel's borrowings were unusually frequent even for his own era, enough to have been criticized by contemporaries (notably Johann Mattheson); Roberts suggested several reasons for Handel's practice, including Handel's attempts to make certain works sound more up-to-date and more radically, his "basic lack of facility in inventing original ideas" – though Roberts took care to argue that this does not "diminish Handel's stature", which should be "judged not by his methods, still less by his motives in employing them, but solely by the effects he achieves."[86]

Since 1831, when Carl Heinrich Graun, Leonardo Vinci, Jacobus Gallus, Francesco Antonio Urio, Reinhard Keiser, Francesco Gasparini, Giovanni Bononcini, Agostino Steffani, Francesco Gasparini, Franz Johann Habermann, and numerous others.[85]


Handel has generally been accorded high esteem by fellow composers, both in his own time and since.[80] Bach attempted, unsuccessfully, to meet with Handel while he was visiting Halle.[81] Mozart is reputed to have said of him, "Handel understands affect better than any of us. When he chooses, he strikes like a thunder bolt."[82] To Beethoven he was "the master of us all... the greatest composer that ever lived. I would uncover my head and kneel before his tomb."[82] Beethoven emphasized above all the simplicity and popular appeal of Handel's music when he said, "Go to him to learn how to achieve great effects, by such simple means."


The original form of his name, Georg Friedrich Händel, is generally used in Germany and elsewhere, but he is known as "Haendel" in France. A different composer, Jacob Handl or Händl (1550 – 1591) is usually known by the Latin form Jacobus Gallus that appears in his publications.

A carved marble statue of Handel, created in 1738 by Louis-François Roubiliac

Recent decades have revived his secular cantatas and what one might call 'secular oratorios' or 'concert operas'. Of the former, Ode for St. Cecilia's Day (1739) (set to texts by John Dryden) and Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne (1713) are noteworthy. For his secular oratorios, Handel turned to classical mythology for subjects, producing such works as Acis and Galatea (1719), Hercules (1745) and Semele (1744). These works have a close kinship with the sacred oratorios, particularly in the vocal writing for the English-language texts. They also share the lyrical and dramatic qualities of Handel's Italian operas. As such, they are sometimes performed onstage by small chamber ensembles. With the rediscovery of his theatrical works, Handel, in addition to his renown as instrumentalist, orchestral writer, and melodist, is now perceived as being one of opera's great musical dramatists.

Since the early music revival many of the forty-two operas he wrote have been performed in opera houses and concert halls. Giulio Cesare (1724), Tamerlano (1724) and Rodelinda (1725) each on a libretto by Nicola Francesco Haym, stand out and are considered as masterpieces, each in a different style.

After his death, Handel's Italian operas fell into obscurity, except for selections such as the aria from Serse, "Ombra mai fù". The oratorios continued to be performed but not long after Handel's death they were thought to need some modernisation, and Mozart orchestrated a German version of Messiah and other works. Throughout the 19th century and first half of the 20th century, particularly in the Anglophone countries, his reputation rested primarily on his English oratorios, which were customarily performed by enormous choruses of amateur singers on solemn occasions. The centenary of his death, in 1859, was celebrated by a performance of Messiah at The Crystal Palace, involving 2,765 singers and 460 instrumentalists, who played for an audience of about 10,000 people.

Handel's works were collected and preserved by two men: Sir Samuel Hellier, a country squire whose musical acquisitions form the nucleus of the Shaw-Hellier Collection,[77] and the abolitionist Granville Sharp.[78] The catalogue accompanying the National Portrait Gallery exhibition marking the tercentenary of the composer's birth calls them two men of the late eighteenth century "who have left us solid evidence of the means by which they indulged their enthusiasm".[79]

A Masquerade at the King's Theatre, Haymarket (c. 1724)


Between 1978 and 1986 the German academic Bernd Baselt catalogued Handel's works in his Händel-Werke-Verzeichnis publication. The catalogue has achieved wide acceptance and is used as the modern numbering system, with each of Handel's works designated an "HWV" number, for example Messiah is catalogued as "HWV 56".

The continuing Hallische Händel-Ausgabe edition was first inaugurated in 1955 in the Halle region in Saxony-Anhalt, Eastern Germany. It did not start as a critical edition, but after heavy criticism of the first volumes, which were performing editions without a critical apparatus (for example, the opera Serse was published with the title character recast as a tenor reflecting pre-war German practice), it repositioned itself as a critical edition. Influenced in part by cold-war realities, editorial work was inconsistent: misprints are found in abundance and editors failed to consult important sources. In 1985 a committee was formed to establish better standards for the edition. The unification of Germany in 1990 removed communication problems, and the volumes issued have since shown a significant improvement in standards.[50]

The 105-volume Händel-Gesellschaft ("German Handel Society") edition was published between 1858 and 1902—mainly due to the efforts of Friedrich Chrysander. For modern performance, the realisation of the basso continuo reflects 19th century practice. Vocal scores drawn from the edition were published by Novello in London, but some scores, such as the vocal score to Samson are incomplete.

[76] Between 1787 and 1797


[74] Handel introduced previously uncommon musical instruments in his works: the

Handel's compositions include 42 operas, 29 oratorios, more than 120 cantatas, trios and duets, numerous arias, chamber music, a large number of ecumenical pieces, odes and serenatas, and 16 organ concerti. His most famous work, the oratorio The Harmonious Blacksmith.

Main articles: List of operas by Handel.
Senesino, the famous castrato from Siena


Handel owned an art collection that was auctioned posthumously in 1760.[73] The auction catalogue listed approximately seventy paintings and ten prints (other paintings were bequeathed).[73]

Handel never married, and kept his personal life private. His initial will bequeathed the bulk of his estate to his niece Johanna, however four codicils distributed much of his estate to other relations, servants, friends and charities.[72]

In August 1750, on a journey back from Germany to London, Handel was seriously injured in a carriage accident between The Hague and Haarlem in the Netherlands.[70] In 1751 one eye started to fail. The cause was a cataract which was operated on by the great charlatan Chevalier Taylor. This did not improve his eyesight, but possibly made it worse.[50] He died eight years later in 1759 at home in Brook Street, at age 74. The last performance he attended was of Messiah. Handel was buried in Westminster Abbey.[71] More than three thousand mourners attended his funeral, which was given full state honours.

In 1749 Handel composed Music for the Royal Fireworks; 12,000 people attended the first performance.[68] In 1750 he 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.[69] His involvement with the Foundling Hospital is today commemorated with a permanent exhibition in London's Foundling Museum, which also holds the Gerald Coke Handel Collection. In addition to the Foundling Hospital, Handel also gave to a charity that assisted impoverished musicians and their families.

George Frideric Handel in 1733, by Balthasar Denner (1685–1749)

Later years

The use of English soloists reached its height at the first performance of Samson. The work is highly theatrical. The role of the chorus became increasingly important in his later oratorios. 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.[67]

In 1747 Handel wrote his oratorio Alexander Balus. This work was produced at Covent Garden Theatre, on March 23, 1748, and to the aria Hark! hark! He strikes the golden lyre, Handel wrote the acccompaniment for mandolin, harp, violin, viola, and violoncello.[14]

During the summer of 1741, The 3rd Duke of Devonshire invited Handel to Dublin, capital of the Kingdom of Ireland, to give concerts for the benefit of local hospitals.[65] His Messiah was first performed at the New Music Hall in Fishamble Street on 13 April 1742, with 26 boys and five men from the combined choirs of St Patrick's and Christ Church cathedrals participating.[66] Handel secured a balance between soloists and chorus which he never surpassed.

In 1736 Handel produced Alexander's Feast. John Beard appeared for the first time as one of Handel's principal singers and became Handel's permanent tenor soloist for the rest of Handel's life.[61] The piece was a great success and it encouraged Handel to make the transition from writing Italian operas to English choral works. In Saul, Handel was collaborating with Charles Jennens and experimenting with three trombones, a carillon and extra-large military kettledrums (from the Tower of London), to be sure " will be most excessive noisy".[62] Saul and Israel in Egypt both from 1739 head the list of great, mature oratorios, in which the da capo aria became the exception and not the rule.[63] Israel in Egypt consists of little else but choruses, borrowing from the Funeral Anthem for Queen Caroline. In his next works Handel changed his course. In these works he laid greater stress on the effects of orchestra and soloists; the chorus retired into the background.[64] L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato has a rather diverting character; the work is light and fresh.

Caricature of Handel by Joseph Goupy (1754)

It is evident how much he learned from Arcangelo Corelli about writing for instruments, and from Alessandro Scarlatti about writing for the solo voice; but there is no single composer who taught him how to write for chorus.[58] Handel tended more and more to replace Italian soloists by English ones. The most significant reason for this change was the dwindling financial returns from his operas.[59] Thus a tradition was created for oratorios which was to govern their future performance. The performances were given without costumes and action; the singers appeared in their own clothes.[60]

Il trionfo del tempo e del disinganno, an allegory, Handel's first oratorio[51] was composed in Italy in 1707, followed by La resurrezione in 1708 which uses material from the Bible. The circumstances of Esther and its first performance, possibly in 1718, are obscure.[52] Another 12 years had passed when an act of piracy caused him to take up Esther once again.[53] Three earlier performances aroused such interest that they naturally prompted the idea of introducing it to a larger public. Next came Deborah, strongly coloured by the Coronation Anthems[54] and Athaliah, his first English Oratorio.[55] In these three oratorios Handel laid the foundation for the traditional use of the chorus which marks his later oratorios.[56] Handel became sure of himself, broader in his presentation, and more diverse in his composition.[57]

Handel by Philip Mercier


Deidamia, his last opera, was performed three times in 1741. Handel gave up the opera business, while he enjoyed more success with his English oratorios.[50]

[49] To aid his recovery, Handel had travelled to [48] In summer the disorder seemed at times to affect his understanding. Nobody expected that Handel would ever be able to perform again. But whether the affliction was rheumatism, a stroke or a nervous breakdown, he recovered remarkably quickly .[47] In April 1737, at age 52, Handel apparently suffered a stroke which disabled the use of four fingers on his right hand, preventing him from performing.

In 1733 the Gioacchino Conti, who had no time to learn his part, to substitute arias.[45] Financially, Ariodante was a failure, although he introduced ballet suites at the end of each act.[46] Alcina, his last opera with a magic content, and Alexander's Feast or the Power of Music based on John Dryden's Alexander's Feast starred Anna Maria Strada del Pò and John Beard.

Opera at Covent Garden (1734–41)

I had Lady Rich and her daughter, Lady Cath. Hanmer and her husband, Mr. and Mrs. Percival, Sir John Stanley and my brother, Mrs. Donellan, Strada [star soprano of Handel's operas] and Mr. Coot. Lord Shaftesbury begged of Mr. Percival to bring him, and being a profess'd friend of Mr. Handel (who was here also) was admitted; I never was so well entertained at an opera! Mr. Handel was in the best humour in the world, and played lessons and accompanied Strada and all the ladies that sang from seven o'clock till eleven. I gave them tea and coffee, and about half an hour after nine had a salver brought in of chocolate, mulled white wine and biscuits. Everybody was easy and seemed pleased.[44]
, reported on a party she invited Handel to at her house on 12 April 1734 where he was in good spirits: Mary DelanyDespite the problems the Opera of the Nobility was causing him at the time, Handel's neighbour in Brook Street,

Handel travelled to Italy to engage new singers and also composed seven more operas, among them the comic masterpiece Partenope and the "magic" opera Orlando.[42] After two commercially successful English oratorios Esther and Deborah, he was able to invest again in the South Sea Company. Handel reworked his Acis and Galatea which then became his most successful work ever. Handel failed to compete with the Opera of the Nobility, who engaged musicians such as Johann Adolph Hasse, Nicolo Porpora and the famous castrato Farinelli. The strong support by Frederick, Prince of Wales caused conflicts in the royal family. In March 1734 Handel composed a wedding anthem This is the day which the Lord hath made, and a serenata Parnasso in Festa for Anne of Hanover.[43]

The Queen's Theatre in the Haymarket in London by William Capon
A musical portrait of Frederick, Prince of Wales, and his sisters by Philip Mercier, dated 1733, using Kew Palace as its plein-air backdrop

The Queen's Theatre at the Haymarket (now Her Majesty's Theatre), established in 1705 by architect and playwright John Vanbrugh, quickly became an opera house.[40] Between 1711 and 1739, more than 25 of Handel's operas premièred there.[41] In 1729 Handel became joint manager of the theatre with John James Heidegger.

In 1710, Handel became Zadok the Priest In 1727 Handel was commissioned to write four anthems for the

. Faustina Bordoni was performed as a stopgap, waiting for the arrival of [37] is derived,Grenadier Guards, from which the regimental slow march of the British Scipio, he concentrated on opera and stopped writing cantatas. Silete venti. After composing Svegliatevi nel core, such as da capo arias. Handel's operas are filled with Rodelinda and Tamerlano, Giulio Cesare During twelve months between 1724 and 1725, Handel wrote three outstanding and successful operas, [36].Handel House Museum This house, where he rehearsed, copied music and sold tickets, is now the [35] In May 1719,

Royal Academy of Music (1719–34)

In 1719 the Duke of Chandos became one of the main subscribers to Handel's new opera company, the Royal Academy of Music, but his patronage of music declined after he lost money in the South Sea bubble, which burst in 1720 in one of history's greatest financial cataclysms. Handel himself invested in South Sea stock in 1716, when prices were low[31] and sold before 1720.[32]

In 1717 Handel became house composer at Cannons in Middlesex, where he laid the cornerstone for his future choral compositions in the twelve Chandos Anthems.[28] Romain Rolland stated that these anthems were as important for his oratorios as the cantatas were for his operas.[29] Another work he wrote for The 1st Duke of Chandos, the owner of Cannons, was Acis and Galatea: during Handel's lifetime it was his most performed work. Winton Dean wrote, "the music catches breath and disturbs the memory".[30]

The Chandos portrait. The 1st Duke of Chandos was an important patron for Handel.

Cannons (1717–18)

The conception of an opera as a coherent structure was slow to capture Handel's imagination[26] and he composed no operas for five years. In July 1717 Handel's Water Music was performed more than three times on the Thames for the King and his guests. It is said the compositions spurred reconciliation between the King and Handel.[27]

One of his most important patrons was The 3rd Earl of Burlington and 4th Earl of Cork, a young and incredibly wealthy member of an Anglo-Irish aristocratic family.[25] For the young Lord Burlington, Handel wrote Amadigi di Gaula, a magical opera, about a damsel in distress, based on the tragedy by Antoine Houdar de la Motte.

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 and Jubilate, first performed in 1713.[23][24]

. Lascia ch'io pianga, and the famous Cara sposa, amante cara This work contains one of Handel's favourite arias, [22], Handel enjoyed great success, although it was composed quickly, with many borrowings from his older Italian works.Torquato Tasso by the Italian poet La Gerusalemme Liberata, based on Rinaldo on his way to London in 1710. With his opera Düsseldorf and her husband in Anna Maria Luisa de' Medici He visited [21], has been played at every British coronation ceremony since.[38] In 1728 John Gay's The Beggar's Opera premiered at Lincoln's Inn Fields Theatre and ran for 62 consecutive performances, the longest run in theatre history up to that time.[39] After nine years the Royal Academy of Music ceased to function but Handel soon started a new company.

George Frideric Handel (left) and River Thames, 17 July 1717, by Edouard Hamman (1819–88).

Move to London

According to Mainwaring, in 1706 Handel traveled to Italy at the invitation of Ferdinando de' Medici. Other sources say Handel was invited by Gian Gastone de' Medici, whom Handel had met in 1703–1704 in Hamburg.[18] De' Medici, who had a keen interest in opera, was trying to make Florence Italy's musical capital by attracting the leading talents of his day. In Italy Handel met librettist Antonio Salvi, with whom he later collaborated. Handel left for Rome and, since opera was (temporarily) banned in the Papal States, composed sacred music for the Roman clergy. His famous Dixit Dominus (1707) is from this era. He also composed cantatas in pastoral style for musical gatherings in the palaces of cardinals Pietro Ottoboni, Benedetto Pamphili and Carlo Colonna. Two oratorios, La resurrezione and Il trionfo del tempo, were produced in a private setting for Ruspoli and Ottoboni in 1709 and 1710, respectively. Rodrigo, his first all-Italian opera, was produced in the Cocomero theatre in Florence in 1707.[19] Agrippina was first produced in 1709 at Teatro San Giovanni Grisostomo, owned by the Grimanis. The opera, with a libretto by Cardinal Vincenzo Grimani, and according to Mainwaring it ran for 27 nights successively. The audience, thunderstruck with the grandeur and sublimity of his style,[20] applauded for Il caro Sassone ("the dear Saxon"—referring to Handel's German origins).

In 1702, following his father's wishes, Handel started studying law under Oper am Gänsemarkt.[16] There he met the composers Johann Mattheson, Christoph Graupner and Reinhard Keiser. His first two operas, Almira and Nero, were produced in 1705.[17] He produced two other operas, Daphne and Florindo, in 1708. It is unclear whether Handel directed these performances.

From Halle to Italy

in Berlin. Giovanni Bononcini and met Frederick I of Prussia In 1698 Handel played for [14] Handel and his father travelled to

Entrance of Teatro del Cocomero in Florence
Händel-Haus (2009) – birthplace of George Frideric Handel

[11] Handel is regarded as one of the greatest composers of the Baroque era, with works such as

Within fifteen years, Handel had started three commercial opera companies to supply the English nobility with Italian opera. Musicologist Winton Dean writes that his operas show that "Handel was not only a great composer; he was a dramatic genius of the first order."[5] As Alexander's Feast (1736) was well received, Handel made a transition to English choral works. After his success with Messiah (1742) he never performed an Italian opera again. It has been said that the passion of Handel's oratorios is an ethical one, and that they are hallowed not by liturgical dignity but by moral ideals of humanity.[6] Almost blind, and having lived in England for nearly fifty years, he died in 1759, a respected and rich man. His funeral was given full state honours, and he was buried in Westminster Abbey.

choral tradition. polyphonic and the middle-German Italian Baroque He was strongly influenced both by the great composers of the [4]

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