George Frideric Handel, certainly one of the greatest composers of the 16th century, took Europe by storm with his compositions, arias, and operas. A master of his trade by the time of his death, Handel was not handed his fortune and fame. With rivalry, odds, and sickness stacked against him, Handel overcame hardships to reach his dreams. Hard work and preservation through even the darkest of days led to hundreds of works of musical art by Handel. Through his knowledge of many musical styles from Germany, Italy, and England, Handel rose to greatness and became a well-known artist of his time, despite adversity. Before one learns of Handel’s life it is important to know his music genre and methods. Handel’s musical collection has been placed in the style of Baroque. A term used generally, Baroque has many different origins and definitions. The word in Portuguese is defined as odd pearls and in English simply means strange or different (Dickinson 12). Defined in The Oxford Dictionary of Music by Michael Kennedy as Bizarre, Baroque was a term applied to German and Austrian architecture in the 17th and 18th century. Only later was the term borrowed to describe music (Dickinson 14). Antonio Vivaldi, Johann Sebastian Bach, Henry Purcell and Handel have all had works classified in the Baroque set. The Baroque style eventually began to describe a large portion of musical styles in the late 16th century, which ultimately added even more vagueness to an already imprecise term. Not a lot of things tied pieces of the time together; every piece seemed to be different in style (Dickinson 1-4). Contrary to the information put forth by Buelow, Baroque was described in The Complete Book of Classical Music as having a fairly uniform style. Most of the works of this era made use of basso continuo, which literally means a continuous bass part played by the bassist or cembalist (Dickinson 5-7, Cozen 1-4)
Handel’s works more specifically fell under the High Baroque Era, an era dominated by Italian operas and composers. Operas all around Europe were becoming the main point of entertainment. (Cozen 11) Handel wrote many operas during his time, but what set him apart from his rivals was his ability to write oratorios. Oratorios are described as “Strictly a musical setting of a religious library for solo singers, chorus, and orchestra in dramatic form but usually performed without scenery or costumes in concert-hall or church” (Cozen 13-14). Though Handel wrote quite a few instrumental compositions, he was primarily known as a dramatic composer. It wasn’t unusual for Handel to portray different emotions and set different moods within his works. In February 23, 1685, George Frideric Handel was born in Halle, Germany. He had a knack for music starting at a young age, but was unable to follow his music early in his life because his father wanted him to study law. His Handel was discovered to have a specific talent for playing the pipe organ by The Duke of Weissenfels and started to take keyboard lessons. Handel’s improvisation in music made him considered a genius. Despite his father’s wishes, Handel traveled to Berlin and started to learn the arts of music composition from the composer Firedrich Wilhelm Zachow. Handel’s further education in the keyboarding led to some of his future fame. At young age Handel had already been skilled in keyboarding and organ (Cozen 11).
Quite a few years following his lessons with Zachow, Handel’s father passed away. Handel returned home and decided to go to university and study law as his father had originally wanted him to do. This stint in university didn’t last long, however, because Handel’s decided to follow his dreams and continue to pursue music. Another major factor in Handel leaving university was finding a way to support his now-widowed mother financially. Handel found work playing the violin, harpsichord, and conducting in Hamburg, Germany (Cozen...
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