Handel Essay, Research Paper

George Friedrich Handel was one of the most accomplished Baroque composers in

his time. Born in Halle, Germany in 1685, he was the son of a wealthy barber who

wanted his son to become a lawyer. However, he displayed such musical aptitude

with the harpsichord, organ, oboe, counterpoint and fugue, he became an

assistant with Friedrich Zachav, organist of the cathedral of Halle. However,

Handel entered the University of Halle, but quickly withdrew, and left for the

University of Hamburg, to study music. In 1706, Handel journeyed to Italy to

further enhance his music. While there, he was greatly influenced by Alessandro

Scarlatti and Arcangelo Corelli. Then in 1710, Handel was appointed

"Kapellmeister," or Musical Director, to the Elector of Hanover, and

received a commission to write an opera for London. Italian opera was all the

rage in London, and Handel?s soon became a quick success. However, Handel

greatly longed for being in England, and returned in 1712. London provided a

generous audience for Handel, and from 1712 to 1741 he produced thirty-six

operas. In 1713, Te Deum and a Jubilate was performed by Handel at St. Paul?s

Cathedral, London, to celebrate the Peace of Utrecht. Queen Anne also granted

Handel a handsome lifetime pension of two hundred pounds per year. Including

Water Music, for George I, which was first performed in 1715 on the Thames at

London. While most of Handel?s operas were based on either historical,

mythological, or legendary subjects, Serse, was one of his rare endeavors into

comedy. Handel?s operas were all sung in Italian, and adhere to the musical

conventions of the day. There is little use of choruses or large ensembles,

since one of the main objectives of this genre, called ?opera seria,? is the

demonstration of vocal ability by individual singers. Also, for 18th century

audiences, the main attraction in Handel?s operas lay in the incredible feats

of the ?castrati,? male singers whose soprano voices had been surgically

preserved from childhood. These artists combined the soprano voices of women and

the lung power of men, producing singers whose vocal feats became legendary. In

England, Handel tried to start opera companies on a number of occasions, but

these attempts to become a music executive failed miserably. On account the

gradual decline in popularity of Italian opera in England, Handel turned to

writing oratorios, which became the preferred taste. These works, sung in

English, take their texts from the Bible. Handel?s most famous oratorio, his

best-known work in any genre, is Messiah, written in 1742. In addition to operas

and oratorios, he wrote passions, secular choral pieces, anthems, cantatas,

chamber sonatas, harpsichord suites, concerti, and orchestral pieces. Beyond

composition, Handel was the first the real businessman in the world of music. He

had a hand in organizing opera companies, obtaining financial support, and

finding singers. He was also in constant demand at parties where he entertained

guests with his lusty personality and exceptional abilities the keyboard. Of all

composers, Handel was probably the most esteemed and appreciated in his own

time. He rose to a position of the highest eminence in the musical world. His

oratorios were the toast of the country, and of the continent as well. Toward

the end of his life, Handel was plagued by ill health. From 1753, he was totally

blind, though this did not stop his activities altogether. He died in 1759, and

was buried with full state honors in Westminster Abbey.

"Classics World Biography: George Frederich Handel." 1997:Online.

Internet. October 4 1998. Available WWW: http:://classicalmus.com/composers/handel.html

Brimhall, John. My Favorite Classics. Miami Beach, FL.: Chas. H. Hansen Music

Corp., 1969. "Handel, George Frideric." The Concise Columbia

Encyclopedia. 1995.

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