HANDEL, George Frideric
b Halle, Saxony, 23 February 1685
d London, 14 April 1759, aged seventy-four

His father was an elderly barber-surgeon who opposed his Son's wish for a musical career. In spite of this, Handel managed to learn composition, oboe, violin, organ and harpsichord. In 1702 he entered the University of Halle to study law; but music had a stronger appeal. He moved to Hamburg, finding employment as a violinist and harpsichordist; then he went to Lubeck, where the organist, Buxtehude, was contemplating retirement. One condition of taking Buxtehude's post was to marry Buxtehude's daughter, and Handel retreated rapidly. In 1705 he went to Italy, where he astonished the Italians with his playing of organ and harpsichord. While he was there he wrote several church works, though still remaining a Protestant. In Venice he met Prince Ernst of Hanover, younger brother of the Elector, and returned with him to Germany as Kapellmeister to the court of Hanover. Shortly after he was invited to England, was given leave of absence, and arrived in London in 1710. His Italian style operas were an immense success, and he was reluctant to leave London and resume his responsibilities in Hanover; but in 1714 the Elector of Hanover became George I of England, and Handel and his employer were reconciled. He became composer-in-residence to the Duke of Chandos, leaving in 1719 to find singers for a new Italian opera company to be based at the King's Theatre, Haymarket. The company opened most successfully in 1720. In 1727 he became a naturalised British subject. In 1728 John Gay's The Beggar's Opera opened to immediate popular acclaim and spelt doom for Italian opera; within six months Handel's company went bankrupt. He formed a new Italian company which opened in 1729, but competition from the new-style works decimated his audiences. His health suffered, and in 1737 he went to Aix-la-Chapelle to take the waters. Restored, he concentrated on writing oratorios, and in 1741 he went to Ireland for the first performance of Messiah. The success of his oratorios reimbursed him for his losses over opera, and he died a wealthy man. His sight slowly failed, and eventually he became totally blind. He is buried in Westminster Abbey.

1707 (22)

'Laudate pueri Dominum', aria

Rodrigo, opera (c1707)

1708 (23)

La Resurrezione, Easter oratorio

1711 (26)

Rinaldo, opera

1712 (27)

Il pastor fido, opera (first version)

1713 (28)

Teseo, opera

Te Deum and Jubilate, for the Peace of Utrecht

1715 (30)

Amadigi de Gau1a, opera

The Water Music (1715-17)

c1720 (c35)

The Chandos Anthems

Acis and Galatea, secular cantata

Radamisto, opera

Huit Suites de pieces, for harpsichord

1721 (36)

Floridante, opera

1723 (38)

Ottone, opera

1724 (39)

Giulio Cesare, opera

Fifteen Chamber Sonatas

1725 (40)

Rodelinda, opera

Trio Sonata in D minor

1727 (42)

Zadok the Priest, coronation anthem

Admeto, opera

1728 (43)

Tolomeo, opera

c1731 (c46)

Nine Sonatas for two violins and continuo

1732 (47)

Esther, English biblical oratorio

Sosarme, opera

Ezio, opera

1733 (48)

Orlando, opera

Huit Suites de pieces, for harpsichord

1734 (49)

Persichore, ballet

Il pastor fido (second and third versions)

Arianna, opera

p Six Concerti Grossi

1735 (50)

Alcina, opera

1736 (51)

Atalanta, opera

Alexander's Feast, secular cantata

Six Fugues for harpsichord

1737 (52)

Berenice, opera

Concerto grosso in C major

1738 (53)

Xerxes, opera (which includes 'Ombra mai fu', known as 'Handel's Largo')

Six organ concerti

1739 (54)

Israel in Egypt, oratorio

Saul, oratorio (which includes the 'Dead March')

Ode for St Cecilia's Day

Twelve Concerti Grossi

Seven Trio Sonatas

1740 (55)

p Concerti for oboe and strings

p Six Organ Concerti

Three Double Concerti (1740-50)

1741 (56)

Messiah, oratorio (composed in under four weeks)

Five Concerti Grossi

1742 (57)

Forest Music

1743 (58)

Samson, oratorio

The Dettingen Te Deum

1744 (59)

Semele, secular oratorio

1745 (60)

Belshazzar, oratorio

1746 (61)

Occasional Oratorio

1747 (62)

Judas Maccabaeus, oratorio

1748 (63)

Joshua, oratorio

1749 (64)

Music for the Royal Fireworks

Solomon, oratorio

Susanna, oratorio

1750 (65)

Theodora, oratorio

1752 (67)

Jephtha, oratorio

Performed posthumously:

1760 Six Organ Concerti

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