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George Frideric Handel ( 1685-1759)

text from wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

He was a German-born Baroque composer famous for his operas, oratorios, anthems and organ concertos. Born in a family indifferent to music, Handel received critical training in Halle, Hamburg and Italy before settling in London (1712), and became a naturalized British subject in 1727. He was strongly influenced both by the great composers of the Italian Baroque and the middle-German polyphonic choral tradition.
Within fifteen years, Handel had started three commercial opera companies to supply the English nobility with Italian opera. As Alexander's Feast (1736) was well received, Handel made a transition to English choral works. After his success with Messiah (1742) he never performed an Italian opera again. It has been said that the passion of Handel's oratorios is an ethical one, and that they are hallowed not by liturgical dignity but by moral ideals of humanity. 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.
Handel is regarded as one of the greatest composers of the Baroque era, with works such as Water Music, Music for the Royal Fireworks and Messiah remaining popular. One of his four Coronation Anthems, Zadok the Priest (1727), composed for the coronation of George II of Great Britain, has been performed at every subsequent British coronation, traditionally during the sovereign's anointing. Handel composed more than forty operas in over thirty years, and since the late 1960s, with the revival of baroque music and historically informed musical performance, interest in Handel's operas has grown.

Works
Handel's compositions include 42 operas, 29 oratorios, more than 120 cantatas, trios and duets, numerous arias, chamber music, a large number of ecumenical pieces, odes and serenatas, and 16 organ concerti. His most famous work, the oratorio Messiah with its "Hallelujah" chorus, is among the most popular works in choral music and has become the centrepiece of the Christmas season. Among the works with opus numbers published and popularised in his lifetime are the Organ Concertos Op.4 and Op.7, together with the Opus 3 and Opus 6 concerti grossi; the latter incorporate an earlier organ concerto The Cuckoo and the Nightingale in which birdsong is imitated in the upper registers of the organ. Also notable are his sixteen keyboard suites, especially The Harmonious Blacksmith.
Handel introduced previously uncommon musical instruments in his works: the viola d'amore and violetta marina (Orlando), the lute (Ode for St. Cecilia's Day), three trombones (Saul), clarinets or small high cornetts (Tamerlano), theorbo, French horn (Water Music), lyrichord, double bassoon, viola da gamba, bell chimes, positive organ, and harp (Giulio Cesare, Alexander's Feast).

Catalogues
Between 1787 and 1797 Samuel Arnold compiled a 180-volume collection of Handel's works—however it was far from complete.  Also incomplete was the collection produced between 1843 and 1858 by the English Handel Society (found by Sir George Macfarren).
The 105-volume Händel-Gesellschaft ("German Handel Society") edition was published between 1858 and 1902—mainly due to the efforts of Friedrich Chrysander. For modern performance, the realisation of the basso continuo reflects 19th century practice. Vocal scores drawn from the edition were published by Novello in London, but some scores, such as the vocal score to Samson are incomplete.
The continuing Hallische Händel-Ausgabe edition was first inaugurated in 1955 in the Halle region in Saxony-Anhalt, Eastern Germany. It did not start as a critical edition, but after heavy criticism of the first volumes, which were performing editions without a critical apparatus (for example, the opera Serse was published with the title character recast as a tenor reflecting pre-war German practice), it repositioned itself as a critical edition. Influenced in part by cold-war realities, editorial work was inconsistent: misprints are found in abundance and editors failed to consult important sources. In 1985 a committee was formed to establish better standards for the edition. The unification of Germany in 1990 removed communication problems, and the volumes issued have since shown a significant improvement in standards.
Between 1978 and 1986 the German academic Bernd Baselt catalogued Handel's works in his Händel-Werke-Verzeichnis publication. The catalogue has achieved wide acceptance and is used as the modern numbering system, with each of Handel's works designated an "HWV" number, for example Messiah is catalogued as "HWV 56".

resources
classical-music-opera.com
International Music Score Library Project

 

                     Handel - Concerto grosso in D-Major, Op. 6 No. 5, HWV 323

                             Royal Albert Hall © Broadcast by BBC, Proms 2012

                                      Handel - Concerto grosso op 3, no 6

                                A part from Music for the Royal Fireworks

                                 Händel Xerxes - The Royal Swedish Opera

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