George Frederick Handel

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George Frederick Handel

George Frederick Handel was born on February 24, 1685 in Halle, Germany. One of the greatest composers of the late baroque period (1700-50) and, during his lifetime, perhaps the most internationally famous of all musicians. Handel was born February 24, 1685, in Halle, Germany, to a family of no musical distinction. His own musical talent, however, expressed itself so clearly that before his tenth birthday he began to receive, from a local organist, the only formal musical instruction he would ever have. Although his first job, beginning just after his 17th birthday, was as church organist in Halle, Handel's musical tendencies lay elsewhere. Thus, in 1703 he traveled to Hamburg, the operatic center of Germany; here, in 1704, he composed his own first opera, Almira, which achieved great success the following year. Once again, however, Handel soon felt the urge to move on, and his instincts led him to Italy, the birthplace of operatic style. He stopped first at Florence in the autumn of 1706. In the spring and summer of 1707 and 1708 he traveled to Rome, enjoying the backing of both the nobility and the clergy, and in the late spring of 1707 he made an additional short trip to Naples. In Italy, Handel composed operas, oratorios, and many small secular cantatas; he ended his Italian visit with the stunning success of his fifth opera, Agrippina (1709), in Venice. Handel left Italy for a job as court composer and conductor in Hannover, Germany, where he arrived in the spring of 1710. As had been the case in Halle, however, he did not hold this job for long. By the end of 1710 Handel had left for London, where with Rinaldo (1711), he once again scored an operatic triumph.

After returning to Hannover he was granted permission for a second, short trip to London, from which, however, he never returned. Handel was forced to face his truancy when in 1714 the elector at Hannover, his former employer, became King George I of England. The...
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