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George Handel was a German-born, British composer who was famous for his anthems, concerti grossi, operas, organ concertos, and oratorios. He is the composer of the most famous oratorio in history.
See the fact file below for more information on the George Handel or alternatively, you can download our 23-page George Handel worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- George Frideric Handel was born in Halle, Saxony, Germany, on February 23, 1685.
- Even at a young age, George wanted to study music. However, his father objected to this, as he did not see music to be a real job.
- Although Handel’s father did not support him and even prohibited him from owning a musical instrument, his mother encouraged and supported him to develop his talent for music.
- Young Handel had the chance to play the organ in Weissenfels for the duke. This is where Friedrich Zachow, an organist, took interest in him.
- Zachow invited George to be his pupil. When George was about 10 years old, he had already learned and mastered composing for the oboe, the organ, and the violin.
- He composed chamber music and church cantatas from the age of 11 to 16. These were lost over time because they were made for a small audience and failed to gain much attention.
- In 1702, he became a law student at the University of Halle.
- For one year, Handel was the organist for the Reformed Cathedral in Halle. He then moved to Hamburg.
- George joined the opera orchestra at the Hamburg Opera’s Goose Market Theater as a violinist.
- To earn additional income, he also taught private music lessons in his free time.
- While working, he started composing operas, and his first opera debuted in 1705. George’s first opera, Almira, was an instant success and was performed for 20 runs.
- After several more famous operas, Handel moved to Italy in 1706.
- While in Italy, he made Rodrigo (1707) and Agrippina (1709).
- George was able to meet most of the major musicians of Italy while he was touring major cities during three opera seasons.
- He met people who were interested in the music scene of London, and he was later enticed by a freelance career in music in London, so Handel left Venice in 1710.
- George was commissioned by the King’s Theater manager to write an opera, Rinaldo, which he finished in just two weeks.
- Rinaldo was released in London’s 1710-11 opera season. The piece became his breakthrough and gave him widespread recognition.
- After Rinaldo, George spent the next few years performing and writing for British royalty.
- In 1719, Handel became the Master of the Orchestra at London’s first Italian opera company, the Royal Academy of Music.
- George decided to be a permanent resident of London and became a British citizen in 1726.
- He left the Royal Academy after the Italian opera in London suffered due to a hostile conflict between two female lead singers.
- Handel then formed his own company and named it the New Royal Academy of Music.
- For the next decade, Handel made two operas every year. Italian opera, however, kept falling out of style in London.
- He wrote two more operas before shifting to making oratorios.
- His oratorios instantly caught the attention of audiences and became quite profitable.
- George revised and translated a handful of Italian operas to English, turning them into oratorios.
- In the Lent season of 1735, Handel wrote over 14 concerts predominantly for oratorios.
- In 1741, the Lord Lieutenant of Dublin commissioned George to make a new oratorio based on Charles Jennens’ biblical libretto.
- The resulting oratorio was Messiah, Handel’s most famous oratorio. It premiered in April 1742 at Dublin’s New Music Hall.
- When he went back to London, he started a subscription season for 1743. It was exclusive to oratorios, and the season opened with Handel’s Samson.
- Samson received great acclaim and was later on followed by a run of Messiah.
- George composed a series of oratorios throughout his career and life.
- Handel also gained success and fame from his anthems, concerti grossi, and orchestral pieces.
- George endured numerous potentially impairing problems with his physical health throughout his career.
- It is also believed that Handel suffered from depression and anxiety. Nevertheless, he showed undeterred determination in his music.
- In 1737, his right hand was impaired due to a stroke. He fully recovered after six weeks, returned to London, composed music, and even played the organ.
- Handel suffered a second stroke after six years, but yet again, he made a speedy recovery.
- Jeptha, another oratorio, had references about Handel’s obscured vision. His left eye was already blind by 1750, and he turned completely blind in both eyes in 1752.
- Even through blindness, his passion for music carried on, and George kept on composing and performing. He did this by relying on his exemplary memory.
DEATH AND LEGACY
- Handel died on April 14, 1759, at his house in the Mayfair district, London.
- George never married and didn’t have children. Known as a generous man, his will gave his assets to his servants and a number of charities, including the Foundling Hospital.
- A week after his death, George was buried in Westminster Abbey.
- He wrote about 50 operas and close to 30 oratorios during his life.
- 25 years after his death, three commemorative concerts in his honor were held at the Westminster Abbey and the Parthenon.
- In 2001, the Handel House Museum was established on the site of his former home on Brook Street.
- George Handel worked more than anyone else to democratize music. As a result, his best-loved instrumental compositions, his songs, and popular oratorios have both musical importance and social significance.
- His music became an essential part of the national culture of England.
- Interest in Handel’s music in Germany swiftly grew in the late 18th century, and he was later on reestablished as a first-rank German composer.
George Handel Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about George Handel across 23 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use George Handel worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about George Handel who was a German-born, British composer who was famous for his anthems, concerti grossi, operas, organ concertos, and oratorios. He is the composer of the most famous oratorio in history.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- George Handel Facts
- Music Begins
- Piece, Year, & Genre
- Musical Puzzle
- Main Type
- Years of Baroque
- Stroke Out
- Mr. Handel
- Greatest Fans
- Country of Origin
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