Born in Halle, Germany in 1685 Father was a Barber-Surgeon Parents were not involved in music and wanted Handel to study law Received musical instruction at the age of ten from an organist that lived nearby First job as an organist in a church in Halle at 17
Soon after he moved to Hamburg, Germany where he compose his first opera, “Almira” in 1704. This first opera did very well and he wanted more. He traveled throughout Italy with some of it greatest musicians. He started to become quite famous. He traveled back and forth from Italy to England composing operas until 1718.
In London, the Handel House Museum is where Handel lived from 1723 until his death in 1759 and where he composed Messiah.
Handel started the Royal Academy of Music in 1719 under the support of the king. “Radamisto” (1720) and “Rodelinda” (1725) were among some of the operas he composed during this time. He continued with opera until 1737 when his opera houses failed. His last opera was “Deidamia” (1741).
In the 1730s, Handel began composing and writing oratorios like “Athalia” (1733) and “Saul” (1739). In 1741, he composed “Messiah”. It was a huge hit and he abandoned opera. Full score in manuscript of Handel's oratorio Israel in Egypt ca. 1760.
Handel composed around two oratorios a year until 1751 when his eyesight began to fail. The last performance he heard was his own “Messiah”.
Handel’s death mask and grave stone Handel collapsed after conducting a performance of “Messiah” and died in London in 1759. He is buried in Westminster Abbey.
Johann Sebastian Bach Handel was compared very often to his fellow countryman, Johann Sebastian Bach, who was born only a few weeks after him. But they were both very different from each other. Bach composed music mostly for the church whereas Handel composed for the public. Bach was very religious and Handel was more influenced by the world. These two were the most influential musicians of their time.
Handel’s music was originally German based operas but his time in Italy really changed his style. By the end of his career, he was composing oratorios exclusively and instead of having them in church (where oratorios where usually performed) he always had them on stage. He loved theater and operas. His music is still some of the most listened to classical music.
Handel, in 1741, wrote “Hallelujah Chorus” from “Messiah” while depressed and down. He started reading some of Charles Jennens scripture texts. Charles was the one who wrote his librettos. He then wrote “Messiah” in about three weeks. It was first performed in Dublin in 1742.
Hallelujah Chorus 4:13 0:00Instrumental Introduction by cello and violin in the major key plays. 0:09The chorus starts a sequence by singing “Hallelujah” five times in unison.. 1:27The chorus sings in unison, “The kingdom of this world…” The trumpet and cello play. The trumpet mirrors the voices but the cello mimics them. This is all carried out at the pianissimo level with a conjunct, smooth, and soft flow. 1:37There is an abrupt change in volume and a triumphant sound created by timpani, violin, trumpet, and vocals singing “…the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ.” Handel demonstrates his talent of word painting here. The phrase, “The kingdom of this world…” is low and soft, while “…the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ.” is high and loud. 2:53“King of Kings” is belted out forte with gusto by the altos (end of crescendo mentioned at 2:13) followed by “And Lord of Lords” sung in unison with the sopranos. The timpani, violin, and trumpet are heard. 3:56A suspenseful rest prepares the audience for a robust “Hallelujah” sung by the chorus in a drawn-out dramatic augmentation. All instruments play out the last “Hallelujah” beats. A drumroll bolsters a big finish.
Ev’ry Valley Shall be Exalted 3:31 0:00The song begins with theme A in duple-simple meter. 0:55 There is word painting here also. Mountain is a high note and low is a low note. 1:01The text “The crooked straight” introduces the B portion of the song and, “and the rough places plain.” follows. There is again more word painting here as well. On “crooked” the notes are in a wavy pattern and on “straight” the note is held out and smooth. 1:40Theme A is re-introduced with more of the same but some differences. 2:21The phrase, “The crooked straight” brings theme B back. It is sung clearly. 2:46There is a rest before the big finish. 3:06 At “plain” the violin and cello join in with the singer with it finally ending in a slowed down adagio finish.
“Alla Hornpipe” from “Water Music” is one of Handel’s compositions that is part of a suite. It was played for King George I in 1717. The suite was composed because of King George’s request for a concert. “Alla Hornpipe” was played on a barge on the river Thames in London, England. It is rumored that the king enjoyed it so much that he made the exhausted musicians perform it three times.
Alla Hornpipe 3:09 0:00Instruments open by playing in D major in unison. The tempo is moderato and volume is forte. It is triple meter with simple division in a ternary ABA form. 0:08The song becomes polyphonic when the viola and cello play in counterpoint. 0:23The cello and viola join the violin and the melody is mimicked in semi-quick exchanges beginning with the viola, then the cello, then the violin. 1:04Theme 2 is introduced in B section by the violins and cello. There is a conjunct countermelody performed in the minor key. 2:01The song returns to theme 1 in D major. It is a repeat of the A section. 3:00The composition ends with the instruments playing an augmented phrase with a slow, concluding cadence.
“La Rejouissance” is part of the suite “Music for the Royal Fireworks” composed by Handel in 1749. It was written for George II of Great Britain for the fireworks in London’s Green Park.
La Rejouissance 1:21 0:00The organ plays a solo that is an allegro tempo and a mezzo-forte volume. The meter is duple-simple. 0:17The trumpet enters with the organ, playing a brilliant, echo-like sound contrasting the muted quality of the organ. They play in counterpoint in a polyphonic texture. The organ plays underneath as the trumpet draws most of the attention. 0:34The organ plays solo. The tempo continues to be very fast paced. 0:41There is a variation on the theme when the trumpet enters again only slightly softer and transitions to mezzo-forte at 0:52. The organ also plays piano. The organ and trumpet join in together at 0:52 after a short pause. The song is played in the major key and has a majestic mood to it. 1:04There is a loud trumpet sound with an emphasis on the downbeat adding variety and interest. 1:09Both instruments hold their last notes for a strong forte finish.
Sony Music Entertainment. “Composers: George Frideric Handel”. www.essentialsofmusic.com. W. W. Norton & Company 2001. Web. 26 May 2010. “Composers: G. F. Handel”. www.8notes.com. Web. 26 May 2010. “George Frideric Handel Biography”. www.notablebiographies.com. Encyclopedia of World Biography. Advameg, Inc. 2010. Web 26 May 2010. J. Lawrence Driskill. Christmas Stories From Around the World: Honoring Jesus in Many Lands. Pasadena CA: Hope Publishing, 1997
“Hallelujah Chorus” from “Messiah” performed by Oregon Bach Festival Choir and Orchestra from the The Life of Christ album “Ev’ry Valley Shall be Exalted” from “Messiah” performed by New York Philharmonic from the Handel: Messiah Highlights album “Alla Hornpipe from “Water Music” performed by Lumiere String Quartet from the Classical Wedding Music album “La Rejouissance” from “Music for the Royal Fireworks” performed by Hakan Hardenberger from The Art of The Trumpet album