Life and Times of GEORGE FREDERICK HANDEL

George Frederick Handel who lived from 1685 to 1759 is a baroque music composer who is known to have brought the fashion of Italian music to the audience in London.

Frederic Handel is known to have written 45 operas, dozens of aria of which many were used for the crown occasions in Georgian England.

George Handel was born in the town of Halle (the same year JS Bach was born). Handel’s father who is reported to have been a barber-surgeon wanted his son to study law by all means but everything changed when he was encouraged to study music by the Duke after he heard him playing organ on their way to the court.

Handel was commissioned as an organist at the age of 17 but left the church for Hamburg the following year. In Hamburg, he joined an opera house as a second violinist in the opera house’s orchestra (a position he held up until he was promoted to play harpsichord). Before he was 20, he wrote his first two operas which were performed immediately.

After Hamburg, he left for Italy (Venice) where he wrote ‘La Resurrezione and Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno. He also wrote much church music and quite a good number of cantatas including Dixit Dominus.

Soon, Handel garnered many crown invitations of which one of them was from the courts in London and Hanover. In the court of George Ludwig (Hanover), Handel was elevated to the head of music (Kapellmeister). Immediately Handel reached London, he was contracted to write Rinaldo (an opera written in Italian) for a theatre in London.

Two years forward, Handel was commissioned to stay in England and was paid by Queen Anne.

London was however, fruitful although it was politically unstable if not unsecured. Queen Anne was to be succeeded by her cousin who was a protestant and this was an indicator to a likely disruption in the country.

Nevertheless, Handel was more concerned with making contacts and fine-tuning his water music including his sonatas which were written for instruments. While serving the Duke of Chandos (James Brydges), Handel wrote Acis and Galatea (mini-opera).

At the King’s theatre, Handel formed an opera company called Royal Academy of Music in 1719. The theatre was serviced by the money gotten from subscribers. The singers that performed in the theatre were picked all over Europe and they were reportedly the best.

He (Handel) wrote many Operas including Tamerlano, Rodelinda and Giulio Cesare. Handel established another Royal Academy after taking over the king’s theatre joint management which was rivaled greatly by another operatic group owned by George II (Prince of Wales). After Handel wrote Coronation Anthems for the coronation of George II in 1727, Handel was honored with a British citizenship

After Handel’s prime, he premiered Deidamia in 1741 as his last operatic work. Frederick Handel is also known for oratorios which included Saul, Israel in Egypt, Esther and so on.

As at five years before Frederick’s death, none of his operas were performed but in our world today, Handel’s work is a major part of most opera houses.

Handel’s Messiah which was firstly performed in 1742 in Dublin is arguably his most popular work. Messiah as the name implies tells the story of Jesus Christ (his birth, works, death and resurrection).

George Frederick Handel was a mighty force of music in the baroque era and still is as most of his works are performed worldwide.

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