George Frideric Handel "Handel is the greatest composer who ever lived. I would bare my head and kneel at his grave" -- Ludwig Van Beethoven (1824)
Handel George Frideric Handel was born in 1685 in the little town of Halle, Germany.
Handel Handel’s father had no interest in music. He wanted his son to be a lawyer.
Handel’s mother Dorothea, was more tolerant and the story goes that she smuggled a quiet keyboard called a clavichord into the attic so that he could practice late at night without his father hearing.
Handel’s father was a barber and surgeon. One day, when he was about nine, he went along with his father to the palace of the Duke. While his father was cutting the Duke’s hair, little George wandered around until he found an organ, which he decided to play. When the Duke heard Handel play, he insisted that his father get him music lessons.
In 1703 Handel traveled to Lubeck to meet the great Danish organist Dietrich Buxtehude. Buxtehude offered Handel his job right away!
Well, it wasn’t quite THAT simple. It seems that Buxtehude had a daughter who was almost 30, and all Handel had to do to get the job was marry her! Handel wasn’t crazy about the idea, and told Buxtehude that he’d just have to keep looking for someone else to marry his daughter.
Handel §Handel instead got a job working for the Elector of Hanover. After only a few months he asked for some time off to go to London, where he was a big hit. He asked for 2 weeks off, but stayed 2 months in London. His boss was not happy. Handel liked his visit there, and hoped to return again someday.
Handel When Queen Anne of England died, Handel’s boss, the Elector of Hanover, became King George I of England. (The fact that he didn’t speak a word of English didn’t seem to matter.) The king was probably still angry at Handel, but he did take him along with him to London. Handel finally got his chance to return to England, where he spent the next 50 years. King George I
In the summer of 1717, King George requested a concert on the River Thames, and Handel was asked to write 'Water Music', for wind and strings. Handel’s Water Music A lot of people seem to think that King George was angry at Handel for having run off to England so soon after getting the job in Hanover and staying longer than he was supposed to. They say that Handel wrote ‘Water Music’ to get back on the King’s good side.
Handel’s Water Music The King and his party were on one barge eating and drinking, and Handel and his 50 musicians came floating by in another barge. There’s no doubt that King George enjoyed “Water Music.” He liked it so much that he asked the orchestra to play it three times. It was a huge success, although the players got a little wet.
Music for the Royal Fireworks Handel wrote the “Music for the Royal Fireworks” for a special celebration the king was having. There was to be fireworks and music included in the festivities. Although the music was nice, the party was a disaster.
2 people died and hundreds were injured at the premiere of the Fireworks music when the fireworks caught fire before they were set off. Music for the Royal Fireworks
Handel’s Messiah At some point in any discussion about Handel, his oratorio Messiah is bound to come up. What is an Oratorio? An Oratorio is much like an opera, but without all the trouble of scenery and costumes and movement. On the whole, oratorio is a lot cheaper to produce than opera, which must have appealed to Handel’s strong business sense. He composed the entire oratorio Messiah, which is several hours of music, in just under 3 weeks.
Hallelujah Chorus You’ve probably heard the Hallelujah Chorus from the Messiah. It is performed a lot at Christmas, although in Handel’s actual oratorio, it takes place at Easter.
Hallelujah Chorus King George II (King George the first’s son) was so moved by the first performance of the Hallelujah Chorus that he stood up. And Since the King stood up, so did everyone else. This established the tradition of standing whenever this piece is performed. King George II stands
George Frideric Handel Handel died on Good Friday in 1759, and was buried in Westminster Abbey.
Listening: 1. Water Music (Click to start) 2. Hallelujah Chorus from Messiah (Click to start)