George Frideric HandelBorn 23 February 1685. Died 14 April 1759
George Frideric Handel Biography (BBC)
Born in Halle in central Germany, George Frideric Handel was lured from his intended career in law by music, and had his first opera produced in Hamburg before he was 20.
The following year he took himself to the fount of all things operatic, Italy, where a four year stay added a new sophistication and finish to his already notable abilities. Many of his most brilliant vocal works date from this time, including the choral psalm-setting Dixit Dominus, the opera Agrippina and the oratorio La resurrezione.
Handel emerged from his Italian experience looking for a career in opera, and after a brief period in Hanover was soon in London, scoring a significant success in 1711 with the spectacular Rinaldo. Over the next 30 years he was to compose around 40 Italian operas for the London stage, the climaxes of his achievement coming in 1724–5 with Giulio Cesare, Tamerlano and Rodelinda, and in 1735, the year of Ariodante and Alcina.
At the same time he gained a sure foothold with the British establishment, cultivating wealthy patrons and winning prestigious royal commissions, including the four anthems which he composed for the coronation of George II in 1727. That year he also became a British citizen.
During the 1730s English interest in Italian opera waned, and Handel was forced to look elsewhere for a living. His solution, oratorio in English, has fixed his position on the British musical landscape ever since. His first English oratorio, Esther of 1732, was an adaptation of an earlier stage work, but by the end of the decade a number of striking original works had followed, including Saul and Israel in Egypt. For a while he composed oratorios alongside operas, but by the early 1740s oratorio had won the day, buoyed by the successes of Messiah in Dublin in 1742 and Samson in London the following year. The ensuing decade saw a stream of notable oratorios, culminating in 1751 in his last masterpiece, Jephtha.
Handel’s greatness as a composer has been acknowledged from his time to ours, even if perceptions of exactly why have changed. During the 19th century and much of the 20th he was seen as the great religious artist, noble master in the oratorios of vast choral sound and intimate pious sentiment, but in recent decades he has come to be appreciated for the more worldly slant of his operas, whose penetrating psychological insight and broad human compassion have won him a position in the front rank of musical dramatists. What has never been in dispute, however, is his easy skill as a composer, his healthy cosmopolitanism, and the sheer tunefulness and charm of his music.
Profile © Lindsay Kemp
George Frideric Handel Biography (Wikipedia)
George Frideric (or Frederick) Handel (born Georg Friederich Händel (listen); 23 February 1685 (O.S.) [(N.S.) 5 March] – 14 April 1759) was a German, later British, Baroque composer who spent the bulk of his career in London, becoming well known for his operas, oratorios, anthems, concerti grossi and organ concertos. Handel received important training in Halle and worked as a composer in Hamburg and Italy before settling in London in 1712; he became a naturalised British subject in 1727. He was strongly influenced both by the great composers of the Italian Baroque and by the middle-German polyphonic choral tradition.
Within fifteen years, Handel had started three commercial opera companies to supply the English nobility with Italian opera. Musicologist Winton Dean writes that his operas show that "Handel was not only a great composer; he was a dramatic genius of the first order." As Alexander's Feast (1736) was well received, Handel made a transition to English choral works. After his success with Messiah (1742) he never composed an Italian opera again. Almost blind, and having lived in England for nearly fifty years, he died in 1759, a respected and rich man. His funeral was given full state honours, and he was buried in Westminster Abbey in London.
- Handel: Concerti a due corihttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p067s31z.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p067s31z.jpg2018-05-21T08:48:00.000ZBuilding a Library surveys recordings of Handel's Concerti a due cori.https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p067s1d4
Handel: Concerti a due cori
- Meet Sofi Jeanninhttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p0700zjt.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p0700zjt.jpg2018-05-03T13:34:00.000ZThe BBC Singers' Chief Conductor Designate introduces Handel's Zadok the Priest.https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p06635r2
Meet Sofi Jeannin
- Handelhttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p05vpp25.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p05vpp25.jpg2018-02-02T12:19:00.000ZDonald Macleod introduces a variety of music across the whole of Handel's lifehttps://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p05wwq6y
- Handel: Jephthahttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p05trxqd.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p05trxqd.jpg2018-01-13T13:34:00.000ZBuilding a Library surveys recordings of Handel's oratorio Jephtha.https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p05trx22
- Handel: Messiah – 'Rejoice greatly' (excerpt) (2017)https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p05fdjp2.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p05fdjp2.jpg2017-10-08T20:30:00.000ZTrinidadian soprano Jeanine De Bique joins Chineke! to perform 'Rejoice greatly' from Messiah by Handel.https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p05hzffb
Handel: Messiah – 'Rejoice greatly' (excerpt) (2017)
- Handel: Concerti grossi, Op.3https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p038w81d.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p038w81d.jpg2017-10-07T11:01:00.000ZBuilding a Library surveys available recordings of Handel's Concerti Grossi Op.3.https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p05j9n0w
Handel: Concerti grossi, Op.3
- Where do you stand on vibrato? (2017)https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p05by376.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p05by376.jpg2017-08-09T11:23:00.000ZTo wobble or not to wobble? Louise Fryer convenes a panel of experts to debate the vexed issue of vocal vibrato.https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p05by01d
Where do you stand on vibrato? (2017)
- Hallelujah from Handel's Messiahhttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p04zvxkt.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p04zvxkt.jpg2017-04-12T12:17:00.000ZKing’s College Choir sing ‘Hallelujah’ from Messiah (Handel) in the stunning setting of King’s College Chapel, Cambridgehttps://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p04zvx9m
Hallelujah from Handel's Messiah
- What led to Handel's Messiah being premiered in Dublin?https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p04x51np.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p04x51np.jpg2017-03-19T17:00:00.000ZPeter Whelan of Ensemble Marsyas meets John Toal on Fishamble Street to explain.https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p04xwmrk
What led to Handel's Messiah being premiered in Dublin?
- Handelhttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01r4j1n.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01r4j1n.jpg2016-12-09T13:00:00.000ZDonald Macleod focuses on Handel the organist.https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p04kmrxg
- Elin Manahan Thomas and Elizabeth Kenny perform Handel live on In Tunehttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03wfk50.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03wfk50.jpg2016-05-27T10:45:00.000ZElin Manahan Thomas and Elizabeth Kenny perform Handel's 'Lascia ch'io pianga' live.https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p03wfnvj
Elin Manahan Thomas and Elizabeth Kenny perform Handel live on In Tune
- Adrian Butterfield, Rachel Brown and Julian Perkins play Handel live in the In Tune studiohttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03q30sl.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03q30sl.jpg2016-04-05T10:41:00.000ZHandel's Trio Sonata Op.5 No.1, mvts. 1-2 played by members of the London Handel Playershttps://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p03q32b3
Adrian Butterfield, Rachel Brown and Julian Perkins play Handel live in the In Tune studio
- Handelhttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p038w81d.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p038w81d.jpg2015-12-02T17:17:00.000ZDonald Macleod explores Handel's early yearshttps://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p039xhf5
- Handel: Concerti Grossi Op. 6https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01txcw0.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01txcw0.jpg2014-08-21T10:43:00.000ZDavid Vickers surveys recordings of Handel's Concerti Grossi Op. 6, and makes a personal recommendation.https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p0255ml5
Handel: Concerti Grossi Op. 6
George Frideric Handel Tracks
Latest George Frideric Handel News
Performances & Interviews from Similar Artists
Bach the stern or Bach the rebel?
The 'mysterious quality' of C sharp major
'You can really feel his blue eyes sparkling through the music'
Breaking the fourth wall in Bach
Word painting and the precision of a Swiss watch
Johann Sebastian Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier Book 2, No. 3 - Extract (Prom 63)
Sean Shibe: immaculate imperfection