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Handel and the Politics of The Messiah

Feb. 23, 1685, Halle, Saxony [Germany] d. April 14, 1759, London, Eng. German (UNTIL 1715) GEORG FRIEDRICH HNDEL, OR HAENDEL German-born English composer of the late Baroque era, noted particularly for his operas, oratorios, and instrumental compositions. He wrote the most famous of all oratorios, the Messiah (1741), and is also known for such occasional pieces as Water Music (1717) and Music for the Royal Fireworks (1749). Life. The son of a barber-surgeon, Handel showed a marked gift for music and became a pupil in Halle of the composer Friedrich W. Zachow, learning the principles of keyboard performance and composition from him. His father died when Handel was 11, but his education had been provided for, and in 1702 he enrolled as a law student at the University of Halle. He also became organist of the Reformed (Calvinist) Cathedral in Halle, but he served for only one year before going north to Hamburg, where greater opportunities awaited him. In Hamburg, Handel joined the violin section of the opera orchestra. He also took over some of the duties of harpsichordist, and early in 1705 he presided over the premiere in Hamburg of his first opera, Almira. Handel spent the years 1706-10 traveling in Italy, where he met many of the greatest Italian musicians of the day, including Arcangelo Corelli and Alessandro Scarlatti and his son Domenico. He composed many works in Italy, including two operas, numerous Italian solo cantatas (vocal compositions), Il trionfo del tempo e del disinganno (1707) and another oratorio, the serenata Aci, Galatea e Polifemo (1708), and some Latin (i.e., Roman Catholic) church music. His opera Agrippina enjoyed a sensational success at its premiere in Venice in 1709. Handel's years in Italy greatly influenced the development of his musical st...

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