George Frideric Handel was born in Halle, Germany on February 23, 1685. He was born about a month before J.S. Bach. He was the son of a barber-surgeon who wanted him to study law, but he allowed him to study music. His family was not musically inclined, but Handel was attracted to music and opera at a young age. He became a student of Zachow, the principal organist in Halle. When he was seventeen, he was appointed organist of the Calvinist Cathedral, but a year later he left for Hamburg. At age eighteen he moved to Hamburg, the center of German opera at the time. He got a job in the opera orchestra playing the violin and the harpsichord. Eventually he had an opera of his own produced.
In Germany, his Almira was given at the beginning of 1705, soon followed by his Nero. At age twenty-one he accepted an invitation to Italy, where he spent more than three years in Florence, Rome, Naples and Venice. He had operas and other dramatic works in all these cities including La resurrezione in Rome. He also wrote many Italian cantatas and perfected his technique in setting Italian words for the human voice. While in Rome he also composed some Latin church music.
When he left Italy early in 1710 , he went to Hanover, where he was appointed Kapellmeister to the elector. But he took leave to take up an invitation to London, where his opera Rinaldo was produced early in 1711. He was extremely popular in England and the upper classes and royalty supported his work. Back in Hanover, he applied for a second leave and returned to London in autumn 1712. Four more operas followed. He also wrote music for the church and for court and was awarded a royal pension. In 1717, he entered the service of the Earl of at Edgware, where he wrote eleven anthems and two dramatic works, the evergreen Acis and Galatea and Esther, for the band of singers and players there.
In 1718 a group of noblemen tried to put Italian opera in London on a firmer footing, and launched a company, the Royal...
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