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GEORG FREDRICH HANDEL

“Handel is the greatest composer who ever lived. I would bare my head and kneel at his grave.”

L.V. Beethoven (1824)

Georg Friedrich Handel was born on February 23, 1685 in Marienkirche, Halle. At the age of seven, Handel visited Saxon Court at Weissenfels with his father. It was here where Duke Johann Adolf heard Handel playing the organ. Adolf spoke with Mr. Handel and persuaded him to get young Georg Handel lessons. Shortly after this trip Handel started organ lessons at Maienkirche with Friedrich Wilhelm Zachow.

Handel’s earliest datable composition was in the year 1700. This first composition is known as the Trio Sonato in G minor, Op. 2 No. 2.

During February of 1702, Handel enrolled at the University of Halle. Handel, while studying law, was appointed the organist at the Halle Cathedral.

Handel met Johann Mattheson in Hamburg on July 9, 1703. It was at this time that Handel joined the opera orchestra as first a violinist and later a harpsichordist.

On February 17, 1704, Handel composed his first opera, Almira. It was not until January 8, 1705 that Almira premiered. From 1706 until approximately 1710, Handel composed 100 chamber cantatas while living in Italy. Some of these cantatas were composed while Handel was employed as a household musician to Marchese Francisco Maria di Ruspoli during a sixth month span in 1707. These cantatas were composed for meetings of the Arcadian Academy.

In 1710 Handel became the director of music for the elector of Hanover. Handel then took a position in 1718 as the director of music for the duke of Chandos. During this whole time span Handel had composed many operas and cantatas. Unfortunately, Handel started having trouble with his vision in 1751 and by 1753 was nearly blind. On April 14, 1759, Handel was buried in Westminster Abbey.

Handel left behind many famous operas and cantatas including, but not limited to the following: Rodrigo, Agrippina, The Messiah, and Music for the Royal Fireworks.


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