More about George Frideric Handel

Born:
1685
Died:
1759
Era:
17th century
No. of pieces on nkoda:
441

Biography

Born the seventh child of eminent surgeon Georg Händel in 1685, George Frideric Handel, was, and still is, one of the most important compositional figureheads in the history of music. During his successful seventy-four year life he would come to hold, and maintain, the seldom-given status of “classic composer”, become the democratizer of music and act as the representative of the late Baroque period of music.

Living during the late Baroque period of music from 1685-1759, George Frideric Handel was born in North Germany where he spent the majority of his young life and his talents for music were nurtured by Duke Johann Adolf I. Following a successful musical education, Handel travelled to, and lived for a few years, in Italy. It was here that the influences from prominent Italian composers such as Scarlatti and Corelli morphed his German musical roots, and cultivated in him a most unshakable passion for stage and operatic music.

The young composer would move back to northern Germany for a short period where he became Kapellmeister for the future King of Great Britain, George I. It was in 1712 Handel decided to take up permanent residency in London, however, and would subsequently be the location where he would compose his most popular and well-known works such as “Water Music”, “Zadok the Priest” and “Messiah”. The move to London would also cement in him a shift from writing music specifically, and exclusively, for the continental aristocracy and wealthy patrons, to writing for the wider gamut of the general public. As such, his music took upon a significant social meaning for the people of Great Britain, which consolidated Handel as a British composer in the eyes of the public.

Handel would die in London in 1759 but that, by no means, meant his influence disappeared. So important a composer was Handel, that Beethoven himself would publicly exalt Handel as the greatest composer who had ever lived. In addition to this, when hearing “Hallelujah”, King George II was so moved that he stood up - whenever the king stood so too did everyone, and as such it has entered common tradition to stand when the Hallelujah chorus plays.

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