George Frideric Handel Biography

George Frideric Handel Biography

George Frideric Handel

Georg Friedrich Händel, (February 23, 1685 - April 14, 1759) was a Baroque music composer. His best-known work is The Messiah, an oratorio set to texts from the King James Bible. It is customarily performed at Christmas time.

Handel was born at Halle in Prussia, and died in London. At the age of seven he was a skillful performer on the harpsichord and organ, and at nine he began to compose music. In 1702, in obedience to his father's wishes, he began the study of law at the University of Halle, but the following year he abandoned law for music and accepted a position as violinist in the orchestra of the opera-house at Hamburg. Here his first two operas, Almira and Nero, were produced early in 1705. Two other early operas, Daphne and Florindo, were produced at Hamburg in 1708. During the years 1707-09 Handel traveled and studied in Italy. His Rodrigo was produced at Florence in 1707, and his Agrippina at Venice in 1708. Two oratorios, La Resurrezione and Il Trionfo del Tempo, were produced at Rome in 1709 and 1710, respectively. In 1710 Handel became Kapellmeister to George, elector of Hanover, afterward George I of the United Kingdom. He visited London in 1710 and settled there permanently in 1712, receiving a yearly income of £200 from Queen Anne. He was director of the Royal Academy of Music 1720-28, and a partner of J. J. Heidegger in the management of the King's Theatre 1729-34. Handel also had a long association with the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, where many of his Italian operas were premiered. Handel gave up operatic management entirely in 1740, after he had lost a fortune in the business. In 1751 he became blind. He was buried in Westminster Abbey. Handel's compositions include some fifty operas, twenty-three oratorios, and a large amount of church music, not to speak of his superb instrumental pieces, such as the organ concerti, the Opus 6 Concerti Grossi, the Water Music, and the Fireworks Music.

After his death, Handel's Italian operas fell into obscurity, save the odd fragment, such as the ubiquitous aria from Serse, "Ombra mai fù"; his reputation throughout the 19th century and first half of the 20th century, particularly in the anglophone countries, rested primarily on his English oratorios, which were customarily performed by enormous choruses of amateur singers on solemn occasions. These include Esther (1720); Saul (1739); Israel in Egypt (1739); Messiah (1742); Samson (1743); Judas Maccabaeus (1747); and Jephthah (1752).

Since the 1960s, with the revival of interest in baroque music and original instrument playing styles, interest has revived in Handel's Italian operas, and many have been recorded and performed onstage. Of the fifty he wrote between 1705 and 1738, Alcina (1735), Ariodante (1735), Orlando (1733), Rinaldo (1711,1731), Rodelinda (1725), and Serse (also known as Xerxes) (1738) stand out and are now performed regularly in opera houses and concert halls. Arguably the finest, however, is Giulio Cesare (1724) which, thanks to its superb orchestral and vocal writing, has entered the mainstream opera repertoire.

Also revived in recent years are a number of 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 of John Dryden) are Ode for the birthday of Queen Anne (1713) are particularly 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). In terms of musical style, particularly in the vocal writing for the English-language texts, these works have close kinship with the above-mentioned sacred oratorios, but they also share something of 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.

[NOTE: Handel adopted the spelling "George Frideric Handel" on his naturalization as a British citizen. To this day Handel, a cosmopolitan crosser-of-borders, is the plaything of petty European nationalisms: the French spell his name "Haendel", the Germans "Händel", and the British and Americans "Handel". They are all correct, but cause no small grief to cataloguers everywhere.]

Handel's works were edited by S. Arnold (40 vols., London, 1786), and by F. Chrysander, for the German Händel-Gesellschaft (100 vols., Leipzeig, 1859-94).

George Frideric Handel

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George Frideric Handel Piano Sheet Music
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    George Frideric Handel: Messiah  Composed by George Frideric Handel, edited by T. Tertius Noble. For SATB choir (with solos) and piano accompaniment. Format: vocal score. With choral notation, piano reduction and introductory text. Baroque. Text language English only. 252 pages. 6.7x10.5 inches. Published by Schirmer.
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    George Frideric Handel: Messiah  Composed by George Frideric Handel (1685-1759), edited by Watkins Shaw. For SATB choir and piano. Format: vocal score. With choral notation and piano reduction. Baroque. Text language English. 255 pages. 7.5x11 inches. Published by Shawnee Press.
    George Frideric Handel: Six Sonatas - Piano / Violin  Composed by George Frideric Handel, arranged by Adolfo Betti. For violin and piano. Schirmer Library Vol.1545. Format: set of performance parts. With solo part and piano accompaniment. Baroque. 51 pages. 9x12 inches. Published by G. Schirmer, Inc.
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    George Frideric Handel: Water Music  Composed by George Frideric Handel (1685-1759), arranged by Arthur Cambell. For piano. Format: piano solo book. Baroque. 14 pages. 9x12 inches. Published by C.F. Peters.
    George Frideric Handel: 15 Arias  Composed by George Frideric Handel, arranged by E. Wolff. For high voice and piano. Format: vocal/piano book. With vocal melody, Italian text (English translations included) and piano accompaniment. Baroque. 76 pages. 9x12 inches. Published by G. Schirmer, Inc.
      Volume I High Voice: Selected & edited by SERGIUS KAGEN  45 ARIAS FROM OPERAS AND ORATORIOS. By George Frideric Handel. Voice and piano. Published by International Music Co.
    George Frideric Handel: Largo - from 'Xerxes'  Composed by George Frideric Handel, edited by Carl Deis. For piano. Format: piano solo single. Baroque. G Major. 4 pages. 9x12 inches. Published by Schirmer.
      Seven Sonatas for Flute and Piano (Flute / Piano)  Flute and Piano. By George Frideric Handel. Arranged by Louis Moyse. (Flute). Woodwind Solo. Size 9x12 inches. 66 pages. Published by G. Schirmer, Inc.
      Themes for Organ  The Four Seasons - Water Music - Music for the Royal Fireworks. By Antonio Vivaldi and George Frideric Handel. For Organ. solos. Kevin Mayhew Ltd. Classic. Level: Beginning-Intermediate. Book. Size 9x12. 48 pages. Published by Kevin Mayhew Ltd.
      George Frideric Handel: Messiah (Oratorio, 1741) - Violin I  Composed by George Frideric Handel (1685-1759). For first violin. Format: orchestral part. With standard notation and vocal cues. Baroque. 41 pages. 9x12 inches. Published by G. Schirmer, Inc.
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