Handel: George Frideric: 23 Feb 1685 – 14 April 1759

By | March 20, 2018

Introduction

A portrait painting of George Frideric Handel by Balthasar Denner

George Frideric Handel is regarded as one of the greatest composers of the late Baroque era. His most famous works are The Messiah, Water Music Suites, Music for the Royal Fireworks and the Arrival of the Queen of Sheba.

He was born on 23 February 1685 in Halle, Germany. However, he spent the majority of his career in the UK becoming a naturalised British subject in 1726.

Family

His father was a barber-surgeon who had Handel in his later years and sadly died when Handel was only eleven years old. He wasn’t in favour of his son entering the musical profession, apparently disallowing any musical instrument in the house and prior to his death enrolling him in law school. Notwithstanding this, Handel became a natural on the keyboard and became recognised. Whilst at law school he became the organist at the Cathedral in Halle. His time at law school was short and his passion and natural talent for music flourished.

Travel

Handel headed north to Hamburg and joined the opera orchestra, then between the years of 1706-1710 he traveled around Italy where he met some pretty famous musicians such as Arcangello Corelli and Alessandro Scarlatti.

Prison?

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PRISON….Almost!
Despite having a great wealth (circa) £20,000 at the time of his death, Handel wasn’t always in great shape financially and was threatened with debtors’ prison in his mid fifties…. Instead he headed over to Ireland for a sabbatical. Here he wrote the Messiah in just twenty four days… Maybe we should all take note here… it’s time for a sabbatical!

Despite his financial situation, he premiered the Messiah in Dublin as a benefit to help inmates in debtors’ prison. Its success enabled one hundred and forty three debtors to be released.

Early Death?

EARLY DEATH... Not quite, but a few close shaves; Despite living until he was seventy-four Handel did have health issues: Aged fifty-two he suffered a stroke which partially paralysed his right arm and stopped him from performing.  In 1750 he was lucky to survive a terrible coach crash; then in 1751, he had an operation to remove his cataracts which went catastrophically wrong resulting in his blindness.

Quote

When being congratulated on providing audiences with such fine entertainment, he supposedly replied:I should be sorry if I only entertained them. For I wished to make them better.’” 

Further Reading & Musical Downloads

We have over one hundred and forty arrangements by Handel on music-scores.com … why not take a look?  Handel Sheet Music

For further information take a look at Wikipedia or Britannica.