The Life of G.F. Handel
George Frideric Handel was born on February 23rd, 1685 in Halle,
Germany. Handel had a passion for music from the time he was capable
of understanding it. His father Georg was a highly respected
barber/surgeon (Cavendish, vol. 4, pg. 60), which did not believe in
music as a career and wanted his son to study law. Georg thought a
career in law would offer more prospects and stability (60). Handel’s
father was so against having his son play music, he took all of his
son’s instruments out of the house. However, Handel was so interested
in music he managed to sneak a clavichord into the loft of the house
on which he practiced secretly (60). In his early years, up until he
went to college, he had not yet composed a piece; rather he simply
kept learning different types of instruments to play.
In the history of music, there are many different styles of music and
six different time periods. Handel was in the Baroque period. Baroque
can be defined as grotesque, in bad taste or of irregular and
disproportionate shape (McGee 45). Meanwhile pieces during this time
period were anything but grotesque—they were masterpieces. The styles
during the baroque time period lasting from 1600-1750 consisted of
operas, oratorios, cantatas, orchestras, concerto grosso, and rococos
(McGee 48-55). Handel’s specialty was opera, thus during the baroque
time period the most popular piece composed was “Messiah” which was
first performed in 1742 (McGee 49).
During the baroque time period, there were many composers that
specialized in different areas of instruments. Arcangelo Corelli was
an Italian musician that led the way for Antonio Vivaldi (Carlin 52).
Corelli is considered to be the “father” of the concerto grosso.
Vivaldi was also a violinist like Arcangelo; his work was influential
with his contemporaries to composers who followed him. While never
actually working together, J.S. Bach copied many of Antonio’s works in
trying to unravel the mystery that was behind his compositions. Then
there’s Francesco Geminiani, which was a student of Corelli’s (Carlin
59). Unlike the previously mentioned composers, Geminiani was a
soloist choosing to play the violin. The man responsible for teaching
G.F. Handel how to play the keyboard and compose was Friedrich Wilhelm
Zachau, who was an extraordinary musician himself.
Aside from the violins there were also masters of the keyboards, such
as a gentleman named Dietrich Buxtehude. Buxtehude had a determination
to make the church a center of musical activity (Carlin 62) and
founded a series of religious-oriented music. He is remembered today
for his inspiration for Bach and other younger and greater composers.
Bach and Handel are considered the Classical Giants. While their music
was a strong influence to the Baroque time period, it was also...