George Frideric Handel

Biography

Born: 1685   Died: 1759   Country: Germany   Period: Baroque
Most music lovers have encountered George Frederick Handel through holiday-time renditions of the Messiah's "Hallelujah" chorus. And many of them know and love that oratorio of Christ's life and death, as well as a few other greatest hits like the orchestral Water Music and Royal Fireworks Music, and perhaps Judas Maccabeus or one of the other English oratorios. Yet his operas, for which he was widely known in his own time, are the province Read more mainly of specialists in Baroque music, and the events of his life, even though they reflected some of the most important musical issues of the day, have never become as familiar as the careers of Bach or Mozart. Perhaps the single word that best describes his life and music is "cosmopolitan": he was a German composer, trained in Italy, who spent most of his life in England.
Handel was born in the German city of Halle on February 23, 1685. His father noted but did not nurture his musical talent, and he had to sneak a small keyboard instrument into his attic to practice. As a child he studied music with Friedrich Wilhelm Zachow, organist at the Liebfrauenkirche, and for a time he seemed destined for a career as a church organist himself. After studying law briefly at the University of Halle, Handel began serving as organist on March 13, 1702, at the Domkirche there. Dissatisfied, he took a post as violinist in the Hamburg opera orchestra in 1703, and his frustration with musically provincial northern Germany was perhaps shown when he fought a duel the following year with the composer Matheson over the accompaniment to one of Matheson's operas. In 1706 Handel took off for Italy, then the font of operatic innovation, and mastered contemporary trends in Italian serious opera. He returned to Germany to become court composer in Hannover, whose rulers were linked by family ties with the British throne; his patron there, the Elector of Hannover, became King George I of England. English audiences took to his 1711 opera Rinaldo, and several years later Handel jumped at the chance to move to England permanently. He impressed King George early on with the Water Music of 1716, written as entertainment for a royal boat outing.
Through the 1720s Handel composed Italian operatic masterpieces for London stages: Ottone, Serse (Xerxes), and other works often based on classical stories. His popularity was dented, though, by new English-language works of a less formal character, and in the 1730s and 1740s Handel turned to the oratorio, a grand form that attracted England's new middle-class audiences. Not only Messiah but also Israel in Egypt, Samson, Saul, and many other works established him as a venerated elder of English music. The oratorios displayed to maximum effect Handel's melodic gift and the sense of timing he brought to big choral numbers. Among the most popular of all the oratorios was Judas Maccabeus, composed in 32 days in 1746. Handel presented the oratorio six times during its first season and about 40 times before his death 12 years later, conducting it 30 times himself. In 1737, Handel suffered a stroke, which caused both temporary paralysis in his right arm and some loss of his mental faculties, but he recovered sufficiently to carry on most normal activity. He was urged to write an autobiography, but never did. Blind in old age, he continued to compose. He died in London on April 14, 1759. Beethoven thought Handel the greatest of all his predecessors; he once said, "I would bare my head and kneel at his grave." Read less
Handel: As Steals the Morn - Arias & Scenes for Tenor / Padmore
Release Date: 01/13/2015   Label: Harmonia Mundi  
Catalog: 2907422   Number of Discs: 1
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Handel: Keyboard Suites No 5-8 / Philip Edward Fisher
Release Date: 04/14/2015   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8573397   Number of Discs: 1
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Handel: Suites for Keyboard / Daria van den Bercken
Release Date: 04/21/2015   Label: Sony  
Catalog: 541883   Number of Discs: 1
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Handel: Music For Queen Caroline
Release Date: 01/13/2015   Label: Les Arts Florissants  
Catalog: 4   Number of Discs: 1
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Handel:  L'allegro Il Penseroso Ed Il Moderato / Morris Dance Group
Release Date: 05/26/2015   Label: Bel Air Classiques  
Catalog: 123   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Water Music Suite no 1 in F major, HWV 348

 

Handel: Water Music Suite - Water Music Suite in F Major - Ouverture
Handel: Water Music Suite - Water Music Suite in F Major - Adagio e staccato
Handel: Water Music Suite - Water Music Suite in F Major - Hornpipe and Andante
Handel: Water Music Suite - Water Music Suite in F Major - Jig
Handel: Water Music Suite / Water Music Suite in F Major - Air
Handel: Water Music Suite - Water Music Suite in F Major - Minuet
Handel: Water Music Suite - Water Music Suite in F Major - Bourée and Hornpipe
Handel: Water Music Suite - Water Music Suite in F Major - Gavotte
About This Work
There is a story that George Frideric Handel's magnificent Water Music was originally intended as a peace offering to King George I. In 1710, prior to his ascension to the British throne, the then Elector of Hanover had given the rather vagabond Read more composer a generous position at his court; but Handel never actually fulfilled his duties. After the Elector relocated to London, the composer was more than a little reluctant to face his old master. As the story goes, it was not until 1717, when Handel seized the opportunity to provide some musical entertainment for the King's now-famous barge party on the River Thames, that the composer was restored in the royal eye; George I was completely enamored with the Water Music (asking for the hour-long work to be repeated three times and not returning to the palace until the wee hours) and all past transgressions were immediately forgotten. There was indeed a grand party on the Thames on July 17, 1717, during which some of Handel's music (possibly but not definitely the Water Music) was played, but the rest of the story is likely highly fictionalized.

It appears that Handel drew upon three already-composed suites of instrumental music, each scored for slightly different instrumental forces, when putting together the Water Music; the Water Music Suite No. 1 in F major, HWV 348, scored for a pair of oboes, bassoon, two horns, two violins, and basso continuo, is the largest of the three, comprising ten more-or-less separate pieces.

The Overture that begins the first Water Music Suite is in two large sections. The stately and eminently restrained exuberance of the first and slower section, built entirely out of a single ornamented pick-up gesture, finally boils over into the vivacious, partially fugato, allegro portion of the piece. There are two printed endings for the Overture: one ending in a full and rich cadence to tonic, the other climaxing on a dramatic half cadence.

Next up is an Adagio e staccato (the heading is apparently Handel's), and then a large three-part movement that moves from an "allegro" (not Handel's heading) built on a regal, fanfare-like, repeated-note motive in triple meter, to a Corelli-derived Andate in D minor and then back to the allegro "da capo." If we count this Allegro-Andante-Allegro as a single movement, there are really only nine pieces in the Suite.

A delightful minuet (sometimes called simply Andante or Moderato) precedes the famous Air, which is marked by Handel to be played three times. Another minuet and trio, this time starting off with a robust horn duet, follows.

The Bourrée, like the Air, is to be played three times; on the second time around the two oboes take the place of the two violin sections, and on the third the two contingents join forces.

After a Hornpipe, Handel finishes the Suite with a substantial fast movement (not titled, but written in ordinary Baroque allegro style) not in F major, but rather in its relative minor, perhaps in an effort to make more seamless the transition between this Suite and the following one in D major (HWV 349).

-- Blair Johnston
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George Frideric Handel


WORKS
Zadok the Priest
And all the people rejoiced
God save the king
Symphony
1. Accompagnato: Comfort ye, My people - 2. Air: Ev'ry Valley shall be exalted
3. Chorus: And the glory of the Lord
Recit: Thus saith the Lord...Aria: But who may abide
6. Chorus: And He shall purify the sons of Levi
7. Recit: Behold, a Virgin shall conceive 8. Aria:O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion 9. Coro
10. Accompagnato: For behold, darkness shall cover the earth 11. Aria: The people that walked in darkness
12. Chorus: "For unto us a Child is born"
13. Pifa (Pastoral Symphony)
Recit: There were shepherds...Chorus: Glory to God
Rejoice greatly, o daughter of Zion
Then shall the eyes....He shall feed his flock good tidings that tellest
19. Chorus: His yoke is easy
20. Chorus: Behold the Lamb of God
Air: He was despised...Chorus: Surely he hath borne...
Chorus: And with his stripes...All we like sheep
Chorus: All they that see him...Recit: He trusted..
Recit: Thy rebuke...Air:But thou didst not leave
Chorus: Lift up your heads...Recit:Unto which...Chorus
34a. Air: "Thou art gone up on high"
35. Chorus: The Lord gave the word
Air: How beautiful are the feet..Chorus:Their sound
Air: Why do the nations...Air: Thou shalt break them them...
42. Chorus: "Hallelujah"
I Know That My Redeemer Liveth
44. Chorus: Since by man came death
Behold, I tell you......The Trumpet shall sound
Recitativo: Then shall be brought - Duet: O death were is thy sting - Chorus: But thanks be to God
50. Air: If God be for us
51. Worthy is the Lamb - Blessing and honour -
I. Overture
II. Bouree
III. La paix
IV. La rejouissance
V. Menuet II
Handel: Water Music Suite - Water Music Suite in F Major - Ouverture
Handel: Water Music Suite - Water Music Suite in F Major - Adagio e staccato
Handel: Water Music Suite - Water Music Suite in F Major - Hornpipe and Andante
Handel: Water Music Suite - Water Music Suite in F Major - Jig
Handel: Water Music Suite / Water Music Suite in F Major - Air
Handel: Water Music Suite - Water Music Suite in F Major - Minuet
Handel: Water Music Suite - Water Music Suite in F Major - Bourée and Hornpipe
Handel: Water Music Suite - Water Music Suite in F Major - Gavotte
Handel: Water Music Suite - Water Music Suite in D Major - Prelude
Handel: Water Music Suite in D Major, HWV 349 - Hornpipe
Handel: Water Music Suite - Water Music Suite in D Major - Minuet
Handel: Water Music Suite - Water Music Suite in D Major - Lentement
Handel: Water Music Suite - Water Music Suite in D Major - Bourée
Handel: Water Music Suite - Water Music Suite in G Major - Menuet & Trio
Handel: Water Music Suite - Water Music Suite in G Major - Rigaudon I and II
Handel: Water Music Suite - Water Music Suite in G Major - Gigue


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