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George Frideric Handel 1685-1759. For High School Music History Tiffany James. Born in Germany on February 23, 1685 Non-musical family Father did not believe that music was a suitable career for his son Allowed him to study music because of natural talents.

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george frideric handel 1685 1759

George Frideric Handel1685-1759

For High School Music History

Tiffany James

Born in Germany on February 23, 1685
  • Non-musical family
  • Father did not believe that music was a suitable career for his son
  • Allowed him to study music because of natural talents
Took lessons with Fredrich Wilhelm Zachow
  • Studied the organ, harpsichord, violin and oboe
  • Learned counterpoint and contemporary composition
Enrolled in the University of Halle in 1702, at the age of 17
  • Cathedral organist at the Calvinist Cathedral
  • Lost interest and wanted to pursue opera composition
Moved to Hamburg, the center of German opera
  • Played violin in the Hamburg opera house
  • Absorbed Italian operatic style from playing in the orchestra
“Almira”, his first opera was premiered at the Hamburg opera house in 1705
  • Completed his second opera, “Nero” within the same year
  • Left Hamburg in 1706
  • Moved to Italy, staying in the main opera cities
Met many important composers, Alessandro and Domenico Scarlatti, Corelli, Caldara and Steffani
  • Composed Latin motets, an oratorio, Italian cantatas and operas in Italy
  • His compositional style was almost fully developed by the time he left Italy
Returned to Germany at the age of 25 to become music director at the electoral court of Hanover
  • Took an almost immediate leave to visit London
  • Gained success in London with his opera “Rinaldo”
  • Four more of his operas premiered in London between 1712 and 1716
royal academy of music
Royal Academy of Music
  • In 1718 a group of wealthy men organized a company to present operas to the London public
  • Handel, Giovanni Bononcini and Filippo Amadei were the appointed composers
  • The company was very popular between 1720 and 1728
Handel was very active in writing, producing and directing his operas for the Royal Academy of Music
  • His operas included: “Radamisto”, “Ottone”, “Giulio Cesare”, “Rodelinda” and “Admeto”
  • The public grew tired of Italian opera and the Academy began to have financial difficulties
Oratorios (opera-like compositions set on a religious subject) were becoming increasingly popular in London
  • So….Handel began composing oratorios after the failure of the Royal Academy of Music
Handel became a master of oratorios very quickly
  • He composed an oratorio, “Saul”, which was performed 6 times in 1739
  • His greatest achievements in this genre include “Israel in Egypt”, “Messiah”, “Judas” “Maccabaeus” and “Jeptha”
In Dublin, the year 1742, Handel and John Rich leased a theater to present oratorios every year during lent
  • Handel’s oratorios were immensely popular during this time due to the innovations he made on the form
  • He composed 26 oratorios throughout his career
He lost eyesight due to cataracts
  • Dictated his last works, conducted oratorios and perfomed on the organ
  • 1759-Collapsed in the theater while conducting the Messiah and died some days later


  • International compositions, incorporating German, French and Italian styles
  • Most important composer of Baroque operas and oratorios
  • Internationally renown during his lifetime