• February 23, 1685
• Halle, Duchy of
• Parents: Georg Handel
and Dorothea Taust
• This image is of the
Handel-Haus where he
• His father was a barber-surgeon who disapproved of
music, and wished Handel to become a lawyer.
• His father strictly forbade him to meddle with any
musical instrument, but Handel found the means to
get a little clavichord privately conveyed to a room
at the top of the house.
• At an early age, Handel became a skillful performer
on the harpsichord and pipe organ.
• In Hamburg, Handel played violin
and harpsichord for the only
opera company in Germany that
existed outside the royal courts.
Also, he taught private lessons.
• Handel wrote his first opera
entitled Almira in 1704.
• In 1710, he was appointed
Kapellmeister at Hanover, but he
soon took leave to London.
• In 1719, he became musical
director of the Royal Academy of
• When he visited England, he decided to stay. In 1727, Handel
officially applied for and became a British subject and adopted
England as his new country.
• When King George I died, Handel wrote the anthems for the
coronation of the new king. Zadok the Priest, one of Handel's
compositions, is still performed today at British coronations.
• In January 1728, Gay's Beggar's Opera opened at the theatre in
Lincoln's Inn Fields.This was significant in that it marked the
beginning of a change in London musical taste and fashion
meaning that it went away from Italian opera in favor of
something less highbrow, more home-grown, and more easily
• The move from Opera to Oratorio was not of course an instantaneous
• Handel's Esther, which was composed around 1720 for the Duke of
Chandos, was performed not in the Chapel at Cannons but in the "grand
saloon" as a costume-stage production. It was already a "halfway house"
between Opera and Oratorio.
• In 1732, Handel revised this work and re-presented it at the Haymarket
• Handel then produced Deborah and Athalia, which Basil Lam has called
"the first great EnglishOratorio".
• InApril 1737, Handel suffered a stroke or an injury which seriously
affected his right hand.
• He was exhausted from the stresses of the last five years and his friends
and patrons wondered whether he would ever play or compose again.
• Handel's compositions include 42 operas, 29 oratorios, more
than 120 cantatas, trios and duets, numerous arias, chamber
music, a large number of ecumenical pieces, odes and
serenatas, and 16 organ concerti.
• In 1749, Handel composed Music for the Royal Fireworks;
12,000 people attended the first performance.
• His most famous work, the oratorio Messiah with its
"Hallelujah" chorus, is among the most popular works in
choral music and has become the centerpiece of the
Beethoven so admired Handel's work that he wrote it out so as to get the
"feeling of its intricacies" and "to unravel its complexities.”
• Composed in 1741
• First performed in Dublin on 13 April 1742,
and received its London premiere nearly a
•Handel's Messiah has been described by
the early-music scholar Richard Luckett as
"a commentary on [Jesus Christ's] Nativity,
Passion, Resurrection and Ascension,”
beginning with God's promises as spoken by
the prophets and ending with Christ's
glorification in heaven.[
• Handel was seriously injured in a carriage accident betweenThe Hague and
Haarlem in the Netherlands.
• In 1751, one eye started to fail.
• This led to uveitis and subsequent loss of vision.
• He died eight years later in 1759 at home in Brook Street at the age of 74.
• The last performance he attended was of Messiah.
• Handel was buried inWestminster Abbey.
• Handel's works were collected and
preserved by two men in particular: Sir
Samuel Hellier, a country squire whose
musical acquisitions form the nucleus of the
Shaw-Hellier Collection, and abolitionist
• Handel's music was studied by composers
such as Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven.
• After Handel's death, many composers
wrote works based on or inspired by his
• Handel is honored together with Johann
Sebastian Bach and Henry Purcell with a
feast day on the liturgical calendar of the
Episcopal Church (USA) on 28 July.
George Frideric Handel
"Handel is the
I would bare my
head and kneel
at his grave"