Georg Frederic Handel
The prolific composer George Friedrich Handel (1685-17590 had an early affinity for music, but he was not always encouraged in that direction by his barbersurgeon father. When he was seven years old, his father took him to visit his older stepbrother at the court of Saxe-Weissenfels. The Duke noticed Handelšs enthusiasm for the chapel organ, and persuaded his father to let him study music. His first teacher was Friedrich Wilhelm Zachau, organist of the Halle Cathedral. Handel took quickly to his studies, and by age twelve, he himself was assistant organist of the Cathedral. However, in 1702, according to the wishes of his dying father, Handel left his music for law school. This career choice was short lived, however; within a year, Handel dropped out. In 1706 Handel left for Italy to pursue his love of music. There he met many great musicians, including Archangelo Corelli and both Alessandro and Domenico Scarlatti. This was at the time when Italian Baroque opera reached its zenith in popularity and success. These associations, with both the musical idioms of the day and these great composers, greatly influenced Handelšs compositional style.
Handel returned to Germany in 1710 and was appointed Kappellmeister to the Elector of Hanover. He left briefly for a visit to Englanda visit he enjoyed so much he requested a second leave of absence just two years later. His reception in England was immediately warm, and he enjoyed so much success that he overstayed his leave. With the death of Queen Anne, Handelšs employer the Elector of Hannover became King George I of England. This prompted Handel to remain in England permanently, becoming music master to the Prince of Walesš daughters.
Handel was one of the first composers to write organ concertos. They were originally conceived to fill time during the intermission of his own operas, with himself at the keyboard. These pieces became quite popular, and served to draw English organ music away from the solemn voluntaries of the decades before. Because of Handelšs influence, English composers began writing voluntaries and other organ works that were much more lively, often longer, and increasingly secularized.
On April 6, 1759 Handel accompanied a performance of Messiah on the organ for the final concert of the season. He passed away just eight days later, on the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. He is buried in Westminster Abbey.
Points of Interest:
- His name was originally spelled Georg Friedrich Händel
- He considered succeeding Buxtehude at the Jakobikirche in Lübeck, but due to the marriage clause that stated hešd have to marry Buxtehudešs daughter, he turned it down (Bach supposedly also turned it down. The marriage clause was revoked shortly thereafter).
- He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Oxford in 1733.
- At the first performance of Messiah, the whole audience spontaneously stood during the Hallelujah Chorus. This is now a custom at all performances of Messiah.
- Cataract surgery near the end of his life left him blind.
For additional details, see the as listed in Wikipedia article?.
List of Organ Works
|Op. 4||Organ Concerto, HWV 289||year|
|Op. 4||Organ Concerto, HWV 290||year|
|Op. 4||Organ Concerto, HWV 291||year|
|Op. 4||Organ Concerto, HWV 292||year|
|Op. 4||Organ Concerto, HWV 293||year|
|Op. 4||Organ Concerto, HWV 294||year|
Background and General Perspectives on Performing These Organ Works
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Scores and Editions
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G. F. Haendel - Organ Concertos performed by Tom Koopman
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- Organ Composer Database 
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