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George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)



Handel/The Man

Unlike Mozart who was born into music, George Frideric Handel was born into a family that weren’t fussed about it at all.  His father, a barber surgeon who wanted him to study law, forbade him from playing music.  Unperturbed, Handel snuck a clavichord (a sort of early keyboard) upstairs to the top room in the house and would play it up there whenever his family were asleep.  One day, Handel and his dad went to Weissenfels to visit Handel’s half brother Carl who was serving to Duke Johann Adolf I.  It was here that the Duke convinced his father to allow Handel to take lessons in musical composition and keyboard technique and the rest is history.  Apart from the fact that he loved life’s pleasures when it came to food, drink and humour, little is known about Handel’s private life, even in his own day, this inspired curiosity.  There’s a story that King George II once asked him flat out about his “love of women,” to which Handel replied evasively that he had no time for anything but music.

Handel/The Music

Handel is regarded as one of the greatest composers of all time and his music, including Zadok the Priest, Water Music and Messiah are still very popular today.  He composed more than forty operas in over thirty years (which is a lot).  His operas are known for their remarkable human characterisation and his fans are among some of the biggest names in music history, including Beethoven, Mozart and Gary Barlow.

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