George Frideric Handel, classical music composer

George Frideric Handel

Biography

Georg Frederic Handel was born on February 23, 1685 (the same year as Johann Sebastian Bach and Domenico Scarlatti). His father, Georg Händel, was a famous barber-surgeon and served as surgeon to the court of Saxe-Weissenfels and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. Intending a career in civil law for his son, the elder Handel was alarmed at his son's natural aptitude for music and consequently forbade him from playing any instruments. However, according to Handel's first biographer, he was able to obtain a small clavichord which he kept in hiding and practiced on while the rest of his family slept. During a trip to Weissenfels, the young Handel attracted the attention of the Duke with his organ playing. At the Duke's request, Handel's father allowed his son to take lessons is composition and keyboard technique from the organist Friedrich Wilhelm Zachow. 

In 1702, Handel began studying law at the University of Halle. However, after a year, he left Halle for Hamburg, accepting a position as violinist and harpsichordist in the orchestra of the opera house. Handel's first operas were produced here in Hamburg and he also met prominent musicians such as Johann Mattheson and Christoph Graupner. In 1706, Handel traveled to Florence, Italy at the invitation of the Medici family. The Medici's had successfully transformed Florence into the musical capital of Italy and had a strong interest in opera. Handel composed several operas during his time in Italy including Agrippina which ran for an unprecedented 27 performances. While in Italy, Handel also traveled to Rome and composed many sacred works.

In 1710, Handel accepted the post of Kapellmeister to George, Elector of Hanover, who would soon become King George I of England. Two years later, Handel permanently moved to England. Once settled, he continued to focus mainly on the production of Italian opera. However, the overwhelming success of John Gay's The Beggar's Opera in 1728 was the death knell of Italian opera in England. After multiple attempts and losing a considerable fortune, Handel gave up the production of operas in 1741 and set his focus on the more popular oratorios.

Handel composed his first oratorio in Italy in 1707 but it is his later oratorios that he composed in England that he is best known for today. His first great success at oratorio in England was Alexander's Feast, composed in 1736, which encouraged him to pursue the genre further. In the following years came several of his most famous oratorios, including Saul, Israel in Egypt and Messiah.

On a return voyage from Germany back to London in 1750, Handel was seriously injured in a carriage accident in the Netherlands and in 1751 a cataract caused his eyesight to fail in one eye. After an unsuccessful operation, Handel lost his vision. He died eight years later in 1759 at the age of 74. His funeral was given full state honors and he was buried in Westminster Abbey.


Composer Title Date Action
George Frideric Handel Where'er You Walk 03/24/2009 Play Add to playlist
George Frideric Handel Concerto Grosso in a minor 09/24/2010 Play Add to playlist
George Frideric Handel Concerto Grosso Op. 3, No. 4 10/02/2010 Play Add to playlist
George Frideric Handel Lucrezia, a cantata 04/20/2009 Play Add to playlist
George Frideric Handel Arm, Arm Ye Brave 03/27/2009 Play Add to playlist
George Frideric Handel Sonata in G minor 02/02/2010 Play Add to playlist
George Frideric Handel Sonata opus 1 no.12 Adagio 08/24/2010 Play Add to playlist
George Frideric Handel Chaconne in G Major, G 229 01/10/2009 Play Add to playlist
George Frideric Handel Concerto in B-flat Major for Guitar and Strings 06/03/2009 Play Add to playlist
George Frideric Handel Samson -- Total Eclipse 09/10/2010 Play Add to playlist
George Frideric Handel Ombra mai fu 01/27/2011 Play Add to playlist
George Frideric Handel Honor & Arms 01/27/2011 Play Add to playlist
George Frideric Handel Concerto Grosso Op.6 no. 10 in d minor, Ouverture 02/19/2011 Play Add to playlist
George Frideric Handel Concerto Grosso Op.6 no. 10 in d minor, Aria 02/19/2011 Play Add to playlist
George Frideric Handel Concerto Grosso Op.6 no. 10 in d minor, Allegro 2 02/19/2011 Play Add to playlist
George Frideric Handel Concerto Grosso Op.6 no. 10 in d minor, Allegro Moderato 02/19/2011 Play Add to playlist
George Frideric Handel Concerto Grosso Op.6 no. 10 in d minor HWV 328 02/19/2011 Play Add to playlist
George Frideric Handel Concerto Grosso Op.6 no. 10 in d minor, Allegro 1 02/19/2011 Play Add to playlist
George Frideric Handel Passacaglia 03/21/2011 Play Add to playlist
George Frideric Handel Presto 03/21/2011 Play Add to playlist
George Frideric Handel Prelude and Fugue from Suite No. 8 in F Minor, HWV 433 12/30/2011 Play
George Frideric Handel Rejoice Greatly, O Daughter of Zion, from Messiah 03/01/2009 Play Add to playlist
George Frideric Handel Come unto Him, from Messiah 03/01/2009 Play Add to playlist
George Frideric Handel Passacaglia for Violin and Viola 11/29/2012 Play Add to playlist
George Frideric Handel Fra l'ombre e gl'orrori, from Aci, Galatea e Polifemo 12/02/2012 Play Add to playlist
George Frideric Handel La Resurrezione, excerpts 02/17/2013 Play Add to playlist
George Frideric Handel Confort Ye 11/20/2013 Play Add to playlist
George Frideric Handel Keyboard Suite No.7 in G minor 02/23/2014 Play Add to playlist