George Frideric Handel
George Frideric Handel (1685-1759) was born about a month before J.S. Bach in Halle, Germany. Although his family was not musically inclined, Handel was attracted to music and opera at a young age. At age 18 he moved to Hamburg, the center of German opera at the time, where he got a job in the opera orchestra and eventually had an opera of his own produced. At age 21 he moved to Italy and wrote several operas there. He returned briefly to Germany in 1710 but moved permanently to London in 1712, where he continued to write Italian operas. Handel was extremely popular in England and found support for his work among the upper classes and royalty.
Around 1740, facing financial difficulties in getting his operas produced, Handel began writing oratorios in English, often on biblical subjects. The enduring popularity of these oratorios maintained Handel's reputation even after his death. He was the first composer for whom an individual biography was published, and many concerts were given over several years to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of his birth. Handel is best known today for the oratorio Messiah and a few instrumental works, including Water Music and Music for the Royal Fireworks, although his oeuvre included music in every genre of the time, from sacred choral music to solo keyboard works.
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