Thursday, February 23, 2012
Happy birthday, George Frideric Handel!
Between 1719 and 1734, Handel started three Italian opera companies---the Royal Academy of Music, the King's Theatre, and the Opera at Covent Garden---but the British nobility came to hear the vocal acrobatics of the soloists more than the music. In 1736, he changed direction, musically, and concentrated on English choral works.
Most known for his Messiah, he was also a gifted composer of organ concerti and chamber music, such as his Water Music and Music for the Royal Fireworks.
Handel's compositions include 42 operas, 29 oratorios, more than 120 duets, trios, and cantatas, numerous arias, chamber music, many ecumenical pieces, and 16 organ concerti.
In addition to composing and performing music, Handel was a governor of London's Foundling Hospital, to which he bequeathed a copy of Messiah.
Handel died on 14 April 1759, a respected and wealthy man. He was buried in Westminster Abbey.
Here's a link to one of my favorite of Handel's shorter pieces: "The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba" from his oratorio Solomon.