George Frederic Handel ( 1685-1759 )
German composer, and one of the greatest composers of the late baroque period (1700-1750).
Handel was born in Halle. In 1703 he traveled to Hamburg where, in 1704, he composed his first opera, Almira, which achieved great success. In 1706 he traveled to Italy, where he composed operas, oratorios, many small secular cantatas, and his successful fifth opera, Agrippina (1709).
In 1710 Handel moved to London, where with Rinaldo (1711) he once again scored an operatic triumph. Under the patronage of the Duke of Chandos, he composed his oratorio Esther and the 11 Chandos anthems for choir and string orchestra (1717-1720). By 1719 Handel had won the support of the king to start the Royal Academy of Music for performances of opera, which presented some of Handel's greatest operas, including Radamisto (1720), Giulio Cesare (1724), Tamerlano (1724), and Rodelinda (1725.)
During the 1730s, Handel composed English dramatic oratorios and the instrumental music he used with the oratorios, including some of his greatest concertos. In 1742, Messiah, the work for which he is best known, was first performed in Dublin. Handel continued composing oratorios at the rate of about two a year, including such masterworks as Samson (1743) and Solomon (1749), until 1751, when his eyesight began to fail.
Throughout his life Handel avoided the rigorous contrapuntal techniques of his contemporary Johann Sebastian Bach. Handel's legacy lies in the dramatic power and lyrical beauty inherent in all his music. Handel's greatest gift to posterity was the creation of the dramatic oratorio genre.
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