Georg Friedrich Handel

Georg Friedrich Handel ( Halle , February 23 of 1685 – London , April 14 of 1759 ) was a celebrated composer in Germany , naturalized citizen Britain in 1726. Since early showed remarkable musical talent, and despite the opposition of his father, who wanted a lawyer , could receive a qualified training in the art of music . The first part of his career was spent in Hamburg , as violinist and conductor of the orchestra of the opera site. Then he went to Italy , where he met for the first time fame, premiering several works with great success and contacting important musicians. Then was appointed Kapellmeister of the Elector of Hanover , but little worked for him, and was mostly absent time in London. His boss later became king of England as George I , who continued composing. He settled permanently in London, and there developed the most important part of his career as a writer of operas, oratorios and instrumental music. When acquired citizenship British adopted an Anglicized version of his name, George Frideric Handel. [1]

He had to compose great ease, as proof his vast output, which comprises more than 600 works, many of them major, including dozens of operas and oratorios in several movements. His fame was huge in life, both as a composer and as a musician, and more than once was called “divine” by his contemporaries. His music became known in many parts of the world, was of particular importance to the formation of the modern British musical culture, and since the mid-twentieth century has been recovered with increasing interest. Today he is considered one of the great masters of Baroque musical Europe.

Early years
Registration baptism of Händel
The house Händel in Halle, now a museum and an important center for studies on his work

Handel was the son of Georg Händel and his second wife, Dorothea Taust. His family was coming from Breslau , and among his ancestors were many blacksmiths and tinsmiths . His grandfather Valentine Handel moved to Halle and her first two children followed the family profession, but the third, the father of the musician became barber-surgeon . His maternal grandfather was pastor Lutheran , also a family tradition. Handel had six half-siblings from the first marriage of his father, a brother, who died shortly after birth, and two sisters. When Handel was born Halle was a provincial town, without much cultural activity. His father had a good job cuts in the Duke of Weissenfels and the Margrave of Brandenburg , had won a great standard of living and bought a large house that is now the cultural center and museum Handel House , but was constantly traveling between the two cities, and did not seem to see the art welcome. Considering the loss of time, planned for his son a career lawyer . However, Handel showed early aptitude for music, which was supported by his mother. [2] [3]

No one knows for sure how he began his apprenticeship. The tradition about him says that he hid from his father practiced on a spinet that had spoiled in your home, do not emit sound, but may have learned something from his mother, who as the daughter of a pastor must have some musical education, or school may have received some rudiments in the art. Anyway seven years he already had a considerable area of ​​the keyboard. At this time, accompanying his father on one of his visits to Weissenfels, managed to gain access to the body of the chapel of the Duke, and to the surprise of all gave evidence of his ability. Then the duke insisted that the boy received a regular music education. Consenting, the father placed him under the supervision of Friedrich Wilhelm Zachow , the organist of the Church of Our Lady in Halle, learning theory and composition , organ, violin , harpsichord and oboe , and study the work of famous composers to gain a sense of style. In the three years he studied with Zachow copied loads of music of other masters, composed a motet by week and occasionally substitute teacher for the national church. At the end of this period his teacher said he had nothing more to teach you. His first biographer, John Mainwaring , he then said he was sent to Berlin , where he would have known distinguished musicians and won the admiration of everyone for their ability to improvise on the organ and harpsichord, but later research gave the report as highly unlikely. You may have seen operas in German in Weissenfels, where the Duke had opened a theater.


His progress was interrupted in 1697 when his father died, leaving the family in a precarious financial condition, and Handel had to find work to support them. A trip to Berlin that Mainwaring quoted in 1696 as probably happened in 1698, according to Lang and she has had a decisive impact on his future career, although we have not manifested immediately. The city was a musical metropolis thanks to the interest of the voter Sofia Carlota , later Queen of Prussia , who gathered at his court a group of notable composers, visiting or resident, as Agostino Steffani , Attilio Ariosti , Giovanni Bononcini , Arcangelo Corelli and others . Handel came into contact with them and admired his music. Playing on the court, made a strong impression on constituent, and reportedly was offered a scholarship in Italy, it would have been rejected by his family. In 1701 Telemann visited Halle and looked for the young musician who had heard good references, beginning a friendship that lasted throughout his life. In 1702 obtained the post of organist at the cathedral Calvinist Halle on condition of probationary candidate and trying to honor the memory and the wish of his late father, he began studying law but abandoned classes. In 1703, when he was about to be confirmed in the post of organist, resigned and went to Hamburg , which was then a major operatic centers of Germany. [2] [5] According to the testimony of Johann Mattheson , who found in Hamburg, Handel on his arrival in the new city was able to write long cantatas , poorly structured in the form and an old-fashioned style, but in everything correct with regard to harmony , as to escape and counterpoint , said he knew more than Johann Kuhnau , a celebrated master of the previous generation. [6] Mattheson was four years older than Handel, Mattheson and immediately became friends, considering it a protected species, introduced in the bustling musical life of Hamburg. In August of that year both traveled to Lübeck to try the post of church organist, succeeding Dietrich Buxtehude , but among the requirements for the position was the marry Buxtehude’s daughter. She was much older and they both gave up. Returning to Hamburg, possibly by intervention of Mattheson, Handel joined the orchestra of the opera site, assuming the post of violinist. And soon his talent was noted. Once, in the absence of the teacher, took his place, and was so successful that he was given the job. He remained as leader of the orchestra for three years, and in 1705 he composed his first opera, Almira, with the help of Mattheson. The opera was premiered with Mattheson singing the part of Antonio, and how this musician had a penchant for exhibitionism, so your character died, he assumed the regency, displacing Händel. In one of the performances Handel refused to hand over the post, a discussion ensued and both ended up dueling. Fortunately Mattheson’s sword broke to achieve a metal button on Handel’s clothing, and the duel ended. Once reconciled, and Mattheson sang the title role of another Handel opera, written hastily in the same season, Nero, who has proved a failure in public. Perhaps this was the reason for his resignation shortly after the orchestra, but then the director of the opera administration apparently had left the theater in a difficult situation, with excessive spending, and there may have been a cut personnel by virtue of economy, the circumstances are unclear. [2]

Friendship with Mattheson likewise came to an end, and little is known about his subsequent life in Hamburg. It seems to have been living giving music lessons, and in 1706 he received a commission for another opera, which was premiered only two years later, divided in two by its excessive length, Florindo and Daphne, who ended up losing. But before his debut he had already left for Italy . The reason for this trip may have been the difficulty of finding a good job after the mess that had settled in the opera house, but according to Mainwaring it would have been invited by Prince Italian Gian Gastone de ‘Medici . It may have been the result of both factors. Anyway he decided to go, but no one knows for sure when it happened. The next news about him are from January 1707, when he was in Rome . [2]
Portrait of Handel in his Italian season

At the time of his arrival in Rome, the city was one of the greatest centers of art in Europe, had a nobility illustrated, cosmopolitan cultural environment and a much broader horizons than those hitherto known, and compared Hamburg seemed parochial. But the pope forbade the production of operas, considered immoral, and the city’s musical life revolved around music and instrumental mainly of oratorios , whose operatic style was all but dealt with sacred themes. The greatest patron of music was then Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni , who met weekly at his palace a group of persons to discuss art and music. In this circle of connoisseurs Handel met musicians such as Arcangelo Corelli, Bernardo Pasquini and Domenico Scarlatti . At the end of 1707 was Venice , where he gave concerts. In April of the following year he was again in Rome as a guest of Prince Ruspoli, who wrote the oratorio La Resurrezione, premiered on April 8 with a sumptuous mounting. Then wrote the sacred cantata Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno to Cardinal Ottoboni, and may have been seen as a visitor at the meetings dell’Arcadia Accademia , a very closed circle of scholars and artists celebrated, which was not admitted. But his reputation was already established, and Cardinal Pamphilij wrote an ode in praise of the artist, likening it to Orpheus , set in music by Handel himself. [2]

Visited Naples , where in June 1708 he composed one cantata for pastoral wedding Duke of Alvito , and went back to Venice, where on December 26, 1709 premiered his opera Agrippina, as huge success; every pause the audience broke into applause , shouts of viva!, and other expressions of appreciation. Despite highly promising prospects for a career in Italian in 1710 moved to Hanover , where he assumed the post of Kapellmeister at the court of the Elector Georg Ludwig . But once I arrived asked permission to travel, and went to Düsseldorf and then to London . [2]

He arrived in London in the fall of 1710 and early the following year was commissioned an opera, Rinaldo , composed in a few days and released on February 24, 1711. Was received enthusiastically, making it an instant celebrity and fashion inaugurating the Italian opera in England . Expiring his license, he had to return to Hanover to resume his duties, but passed by before Düsseldorf again. In November it was Halle, where he was godfather to his niece. In 1712 got permission for another trip to London, hoping to repeat the previous success, but the two operas he composed on his arrival had no significant success. Around 1713 he moved to the home of Lord Burlington , still a young man, but his mother has become the family mansion an art center. Possibly she was, in his capacity as maid of Queen Anne , who succeeded him orders by the royal family, composing the Ode for Queen Anne and a Te Deum to celebrate the Peace of Utrecht . The practical result of the Ode was an annual pension of £ 200 granted by Queen. He also played organ regularly at St. Paul’s Cathedral , always with great care. [2]

However, this time his license had expired long ago, and his boss was upset in Hanover. Things became even more embarrassing when the Elector for Handel took the English throne in 1714 as George I . Handel sought to avoid by all means find it, but according to Mainwaring, a friend of his, Baron Kielmansegge, devised a way to reconcile them. One of the favorite pastimes of nobles Londoners this season was the boat ride on the Thames , accompanied by a small orchestra that followed them in a boat himself. On one of these trips the King was invited to participate, and Kielmansegge arranged for the music performed was Handel. Without knowing who the author was, King proved delighted, to be revealed and the plot, forgave him. Other sources, however, say that reconciliation happened by Francesco Geminiani , celebrated violin virtuoso, who to be invited to appear before the King, demanded that her accompanist was the harpsichord Handel. Anyway, George I not only confirmed the pension Handel as doubled. [2]

The years of 1716 and 1717 were spent in Germany, along with the king on a visit to his German dominions, but he was given freedom to visit other places, going to Hamburg and Halle, visiting his mother and helping the widow of his former master Zachow, who was in poverty, giving him a pension, which continued for many years. In Ansbach met an old friend, Johann Christoph Schmidt, now married with children, and with an established business, but persuaded him to leave everything and follow him to London as his secretary and copyist. On this trip he composed several pieces custom, and his style showed a temporary reversal patterns for juveniles. In turn, in 1717, the initial enthusiasm for Italian opera Londoner had faded. Handel became Kapellmeister of the Duke of Chandos , one of the great patrons of music of its time, for whom he worked for three years, producing among other pieces known the Chandos Te Deum and the twelve Chandos Anthems, which betray his knowledge of music by Purcell . At this stage also wrote music for the liturgy Anglican , serenades , his first English oratorio, Esther, and gave lessons to the daughters of the Prince of Wales . [2] [7]
Autograph score of Tolomeo, 1724

In 1719 part of the nobility met and began planning the resurrection of Italian opera in London, possibly an idea that was born in the circle of the Duke of Chandos. With the participation of the King formed a company with a capital of 50 000 pounds, which was named Royal Academy of Music , inspired by the French Academy. Handel was immediately listed as official composer, and was sent to Germany to recruit singers. Bach tried to meet with him on this occasion, but there was disagreement. The trip was not the expected result, Handel returned to London with just a famous name, soprano Margherita Durastanti , and recitation of the inaugural Royal Academy in 1720, with a work of a minor composer, Giovanni Porta, was expressionless. Following the enactment of Radamisto, Handel was a little better, but was only given ten times, and opera next season, Narciso, Domenico Scarlatti, had a worse reception than others. The following autumn Lord Burlington hired another composer for the Academy, Giovanni Bononcini , who went on to become the biggest rival of Handel. His debut in London with Astarto opera was a great success, aided by an exceptional cast of singers virtuous – Senesino , Boschi, Berenstadt, Berselli, Durastanti, Save and Galerati – which would have merit only the consecration for any work that sing . In addition to music quality and Bononcini had was a novelty for the English, already familiar with Handel, and soon formed around him a party to numerous supporters. The following season his works were more profitable, with three, while only offered a Handel, Floridante, whose success was moderate. Contundo, the situation reversed in the following year, Floridante was resubmitted with good reception, and two others, Muzio Scevola and Ottone, had great impact, partly due to the arrival of another important singer, Francesca Cuzzoni , which overshadowed all other singers of fashion with his extraordinary vocal ability. [2]

The relationship between him and the singers was not peaceful, international virtuosos were known for their extravagant, absurd demands, rebelliousness and a huge vanity. Several times he had to pacify rivalries between them. Once threatened the Cuzzoni throwing it out the window if you do not obey. Finally Cuzzoni Senesino and made life impossible for others, who have left the company, and they were only tolerated because they were in fact indispensable. In 1726 was hired another singer, Faustina Bordoni , who overcame his own Cuzzoni, but disputes continued as not only were incited to become public and damaging the performances. [2] In a presentation on June 6, 1727 and the Cuzzoni Bordoni began a wrestling on stage, ripping each other’s hair, between screams from the audience, with the Princess of Wales present. [8] Even among all these setbacks in recent years appeared a regular succession of his great operas, as Tamerlano Giulio Cesare, Rodelinda, Scipio, Alessandro, Admetus, all welcome. Handel was already then considered the renovator of English opera, and judging by the accounts of influential critics of the time as Charles Burney , he demonstrated a musical science is well above average, and was able to move his audience in a way never seen before, taking the music beyond mere entertainment and imbuing it with passion. [2]
Handel in 1726-1728
Cover of the printed score of Sosarme, 1732

In 1728, however, the Royal Academy was dissolved. Possibly administrators were not competent enough, but a major factor was the presentation of a pastiche, The Beggar’s Opera , by a rival company, which became a blazing success, with 62 consecutive presentations. It is also likely that the very music of Handel at this time, for the same qualities that Burney praised, has become one of the causes of the collapse of the company. Given the lightness and humor of the Beggar’s Opera, with its ballads of easy melodies in English that everyone could sing, his character uncompromising and immediate appeal, the music highly elaborate, serious and Italian Handel could not compete in the taste of the general population, and it is assumed that part of his early success has been due before the excitement and novelty of singers and castrati virtuous, hitherto unknown in London, whose performances were electrifying in fact, than a true understanding of the substance and significance of the great music public. The company’s order did not represent a major blow to Handel. As a musician hired ever received your payment, could amass a capital of 10 000 pounds, a considerable sum at the time, and the experience served to him to improve his skill in dramatic composition, making it arguably the best composer of serious operas throughout Europe. Moreover, the successor of George I, George II , was even more sympathetic to him, and indicated composer of the Chapel Royal and court composer. His instrumental compositions were also assessed, were published assiduously and had great sales. [2] [9]

Despite the ultimate failure of the Royal Academy, he felt safe enough to launch an operatic company on their own soon after. Teamed up with businessman Heidegger, hired the rent of King’s Theatre for five years and traveled to Italy in search of singers, but only managed to hire secondary names. Halle also visited to see his mother, and Bach tried to see him again, but again the meeting did not take place. The premiere of his company, with Lothario, was inauspicious. The following season he was forced to rehire Senesino, and then the recitation of Poro was a success. We also managed to hire the low Montagnana, another remarkable singer, but the presentations of Ezio and Sosarme in 1732 were sparsely attended. In February reintroduced Esther shaped chapel, and at the end of the year staged opera Acis and Galatea, both in English and successful. Orlando appeared the following year, another success, and was invited by Oxford University to present the oratorio Esther, Deborah and Athaliah, a genre that quickly became popular and had packed houses in Oxford. [2] [9]

But the economic situation of his operatic company was not stable, and it was made worse with the eternal friction with the singers. Handel remained a favorite of the King, but it was not new, the new generation was beginning to become influential, and his tastes were different. Being a foreigner, even now naturalized, created many enemies with native composers. [2] Moreover, with the King at serious odds with his son, the Prince of Wales, it sponsored the founding of a rival opera company, the Opera of the Nobility and Handel as favorite monarch ended up being indirectly involved in the dispute. According to the report of Lord Hervey, the issue has become so serious that against Händel be tantamount to being against the King, but being the unpopular monarch, the aristocracy gathered around the Prince and his new company, which offered higher wages for Senesino and Heidegger, and they abandoned Händel. He also lost a great protection from Princess Anne , who left England to marry the Prince of Orange . [10] In 1734 it was granted the King’s Theatre ended and the house was handed over to the Opera of the Nobility, who had then with a large cast of singers, including the famous Farinelli . Immediately he founded another company in the Theatre Royal Covent Garden , in association with John Rich. Introduced innovations to attract more public spectacles such as concerts of organ and dances between the acts of operas, with the participation of renowned dancer and choreographer Marie Sallé , but the initiative has not had the expected result, although he remained unbeatable in oratorios. [2] [11] [12] In 1736 the marriage of Frederick, Prince of Wales , to Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha , gave him the ultimate opportunity to show his operas in style, as the princess asked a series of Unique performances, where the composer had an opera compositions old and new, Atalanta. Lively, prepared the following season producing Arminio, Giustino and Berenice. [2]

But it was all useless. In the season of 1735 had already lost 9000 pounds, and went bankrupt in 1737. His health faltered, he suffered a nervous breakdown and paralysis affected his right arm. He then went to the spa resort of Aix-la-Chapelle , where he recovered very quickly, there might even compose a cantata, which was lost. At the end of the year he was back in London, and immediately began composing another opera, Faramondo . He also made ​​an attempt to suit the taste of the time, making his only comic opera, Serse , which was a complete failure. The other had only slightly better luck. His only consolation in this difficult season, in which he also was threatened with imprisonment for debt, were a benefit concert that her friends organized to collect funds for it, which was unexpectedly well attended, and the statue erected to him in Vauxhall Gardens, [2] [ 13] which, according to Hawkins, his contemporary, was the picture more similar to their real appearance of those he knew. [14] Do not give up and has ambitious plans for his new oratorio, Saul, but his reception was not significant. Following their oratories, Israel in Egypt and L’Allegro, Il Penseroso and Il Moderato, others were failures. His other works, in Parnassus Party, and Imeneo Deidamia, empty all found audiences in theaters and barely lasted more than two or three nights. In 1739 he was again on the brink of ruin. [2] Only his six Concert Thick got good reception, but failed to reverse its painful financial situation, aggravated by a coalition of nobles who for unknown reasons was against it at this time, boycotting their concerts . Rolland said many setbacks before he decided to leave England, has no strength to continue the struggle, and in 1741 announced that he would give his last concert. [15]
Engraving reproducing the statue of Handel Vauxhall Gardens

However, the same year he was invited to give a series of benefit concerts in Dublin , and there again his star is shining again. Beyond wrote The Messiah (Messiah), his best-known work, and resubmitted L’Allegro, whose performances have become a real triumph. Logo arranged for other works were staged, all enthusiastically received. In 1743 he was again in London, where his oratorio Samson was an immediate success, and his Dettingen Te Deum had similar reception. But other compositions, such as Hercules and Belshazzar, have failed, and despite receiving pensions that always kept punctually, in 1745 their situation was once again critical. [2] Again nobility conspired for its ruin. Horace Walpole said that then became a fashion, in the days when his oratorios Handel offered, all the nobles go to the opera. [16] During the Jacobite rebellion he took the political movement works of nature writing patriotic, and his oratorio Judas Maccabaeus, composed in honor of the Duke of Cumberland , who defeated the rebels, had enormous repercussions, giving you more income than all his operas together, and a sudden making it the “national composer”. Following his other compositions were approved. Susanna was another notable success, and the Fireworks Music, an orchestral suite. Finally your finances have stabilized.

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