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George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)
George Fredric Handel born in Halle, Germany Father was a wealthy barber/surgeon that believed that Handel should never enter the music field. Born Georg Friedrich Händel, Handel anglicized the spelling of his name after becoming a British citizen in 1727. Handel never married.
Early Years Learned opera style through actively absorbing it as a violin player in Hamburg. First opera was Almira (age 20). Was a great success for his age. Age 25 appointed as the conductor for the Elector of Hanover.
Hanover He traveled to London to stage his opera, which was very well received The next time he went to London, he just stayed He was dismissed by the Elector of Hanover The elector of Hanover, was crowned King George I of England in 1714. Oops!
Handel’s Water Music 1717 An offering to King George I after irritating His Serene Highness. Music for an outing on the Thames river. His former salary (in Hanover) was doubled
Water Music (1717) Dance Suite First performance lacking Basso Continuo Instruments: Harpsichord or Clavichord would not fit in the boat. Too Top Heavy. Hornpipe, Lentement as well as the standard dance forms.
G.F. Handel 1720 Founded the Royal Academy of Music Purpose: presentation of Italian Opera OPERA SERIA: Italian opera, sung in Italian, serious themes, serious plots, high aristocratic form of entertainment. wrote about 40 operas
Italian Opera in England At first was popular, but the royal academy of music did not remain successful. Squabbles between Handel and his opera manager Bononcini. Mismanagement of funds at the opera house.
New Operatic Forms Compound Handel’s Problem Success of John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera. Ballad or Dialogue Opera: opera with spoken text, light, humorous, sung in the vernacular language. http://www.free-ed.net/free-ed/Humanities/Opera/OperaComment_VOD.asp
Oratorio Baroque vocal piece. Multi-movement First oratorios were sacred operas.
Oratorio Eventually stripped of staging and costumes etc. At the end of the Baroque it was simply a “non-staged event.” Middle and late oratorio used no acting, staging, costumes. -- Concert version. Based upon a biblical story
Oratorio Like opera: large-scale work recitatives tell story arias ponder ensembles of main characters orchestra English language plots: O.T. stories Chorus = VIMP Narrator = VIMP NO Visual zUnlike opera Soloists, orchestra, chorus. Uses all of the “MUSICAL” elements of opera to create a non-staged event.
Oratorio Sudden change in fashion in London; oratorios replace operas as favored entertainment Oratorio – unstaged narrative work for voices, chorus & orchestra, usually on religious themes More generally, a move to new, Classical, style in opera puts Handel on the operatic shelf for 200 years
Middle Class Appeal England had just lived through the Commonwealth period when restrictions on society and on the middle class were perceived as unbearable.
Middle Class Appeal Middle class identified with the Old Testament stories found in Handel’s oratorio’s. (Freeing of the Hebrews…. Promised Messiah) Concerts given in benefit to the poor, hospitals, orphanages.
The odd fate of Handel’s operas Even Handel’s best and very popular operas fell out of favor, and were rarely if ever performed again until the 20th Century. Compare that to the case of Handel’s Messiah which has been performed every year since its premiere in 1742.
Messiah (1742) Premiered in Dublin, Ireland. Composed in 24 days. Libretto: Biblical verses divided in three parts:
Structure of Messiah Christmas: prophecy and coming of Christ. Easter: The passion of Christ Redemption: detailing how to live through faith.
Concert etiquette for Messiah Why stand at the Hallelujah Chorus. Tradition or Religious significance? King George
the Top 10 (possible) reasons the king was awakened by the loud chords of the beginning of the chorus he was tired of sitting he was hard of hearing and thought they were playing “God Save the King” he had gout and stood for relief he arrived late and all stood when he entered
he had hemorrhoids and stood for relief he had to go to the bathroom he mistook the words “And he shall reign forever and ever” to be a personal tribute he thought the chorus was so splendid that he assumed it marked the end of the show he was actually moved and inspired to stand
1749 Produced Music for the Royal Fireworks to celebrate the end of the War of Austrian Succession
Unlike Bach H’s homophony Classical era H’s music popular during & after lifetime H = OPERA! Ger It Eng Handel Like Bach large output many diverse styles & genres; sacred & secular
Handel’s last years he lost his eyesight during the last years of his life so did Bach they had the same physician who treated them both for cataracts
Handel buried in Westminster Abbey Note the wrong date on the grave marker.
Handel is the greatest composer who ever lived. I would bare my head and kneel at his grave. - Ludwig Van Beethoven
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