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Handel – straight from the horse’s mouth

Mon May 11 2015

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As a famous person, you get all kinds of crazy stuff written about you. Poor George Friedrich Handel has articles, books and even a museum dedicated to him. Being dead, he naturally doesn’t get a say in any of this. So we thought we’d give you a little selection of quotes which, while not all of them come straight from the horse’s mouth, they all come from somewhere around the horse’s mouth.

 

“He is the greatest composer that ever lived. I would uncover my head and kneel before his tomb.”

– Ludwig van Beethoven, expressing his devotion. In 1797, Beethoven published several pieces based on Handel’s work.

 

“Handel is so great and so simple that no one but a professional musician is able to understand him.”

– Samuel Butler, the Victorian writer was a lifelong fan of Handel.

 

 “A tub of pork and beer.”

– Hector Berlioz describing the famously greedy Handel.

 

“Handel is only fourth rate. He is not even interesting.”

– Pytor Ilych Tchaikovsky, writing in his diary in 1886. Tchaikovsky, to be fair, was quite harsh on a lot of people. He described Brahms as a “giftless bastard” and said of that Richard Strauss that “such an astounding lack of talent was never before united to such pretentiousness”.

 

“You have taken far too much trouble over your opera. Here in England that is mere waste of time.”

– Handel, to Christoph Willibald von Gluck. Despite what this quote implies, however, Handel actually very much liked England. He changed the spelling of his name to an English spelling, and was a naturalized Englishman.

 

 “It is much too good for them; they don’t know what to do with it.”

– Handel, on “borrowing” others’ music and making it his own.

 

 “Oh, I’ve just seen a man in the house, with a wig on!  I’m sure it’s Handel!”

– Jimi Hendrix. During the late 1960s, Jimi lived in Handel’s old house in London. His girlfriend of the time recalls how one day Jimi ran downstairs from the bathroom, claiming to have just seen Handel.

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