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The Life and Career of George Frederick Handel (Term Paper Sample)
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The Life and Career of George Frederick Handel
Among the vast number of musicians and composers during the Baroque era (1660-1760), George Frederic Handel is considered as one of the most successful and popular. His immense musical influence and genius has been immortalized even until today. Quotes from Messiah, Water Music, Music for the Royal Fireworks, Acis and Galatea, and other popular compositions still abound in movies and other literature. Many of Handel’s works still remain as canonical and standard pieces in the repertoire of classical musicians.
Still, this musical prodigy emerged from a practical family who has no penchant for music. The first and probably the most important of Handel’s biographers, John Mainwaring, tell Handel’s early life in Halle, Prussia:
From his very childhood Handel has discovered such as strong propensity to Music, that his father, who always intended him for the study of Civil Law, had reason to be alarmed. Perceiving that this inclination still increased, he took every method to oppose it. He strictly forbad him to meddle with any musical instrument; nothing of that kind was suffered to remain in the house, nor was he ever permitted to go any other, where such kind of furniture was in use. All this caution and art, instead of restraining, did but augment his passion. He had found means to get a little clavichord privately conveyed to a room at the top of the house. To this room he constantly stole when the family was sleep. He had made some progress before Music had been prohibited, and by his assiduous practice at hours of rest, had made such farther advances, as, tho’ not attended to at that time, were no slight prognostication of his future greatness.
On July 2, 1703, Handel encountered Johann Mattheson in Hamburg, a multi-talented artist known today for his literary achievements. Edward Dent attributes this acquaintance as one of Handel’s most important. Mattheson introduced Handel to Hamburg’s music scene, bringing him to numerous performances of Italian opera. Dent notes, however, that like those of Venice, Hamburg’s opera is relatively independent of noble patronage. It was also the time when German operas are starting to gain steam through the opera-houses in Hamburg as public entertainment. Dent further notes, that when “Handel arrived in Hamburg in the summer of 1703 the biblical operas had long come to an end, and the theatre was under the management of Reinhold Keiser.” This ‘rebellious’ and free-wheeling attitude of the German art scene molded Handel’s predilection to creating music apart from his contemporaries who are clamoring for royal patronage and support from the Church.
Handel left Hamburg and went to Italy, probably arriving on January 14, 1707 as chronicled by a Roman journalist. It is in Italy where he met Ferdinand de Medici, a very powerful and influential aristocrat who immediately became fo...
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