George Frideric Handel was a German-born British composer of the Baroque era. He is regarded as one of the finest Baroque composers and his music is a vital part of English heritage. Despite considerable life challenges, Handel made significant contributions to the world of music, namely using unconventional instruments and creating new style blends, which make him one of the world most recognized composers.
George Frideric Handel, one of the greatest composers of his era, was born in February 1685 in Halle, Germany (Burrows 3). He appeared initially as an opera composer in 1705 introducing his first operas Almira and Nero. The former performance thrilled the audience greatly (Burrows 26). Handel joined the Royal Academy of Music when he moved from Germany to England. Having worked there for nine years, he had certain disagreements with its members. Thus, he decided lately to establish a new company in 1727. For several decades, he had been working fruitfully. However, his most notable composition remains Messiah. Handel died in 1759 and was buried at Westminster Abbey in London (Cudworth).
Handel was a prolific composer of operas, oratorios, cantatas, serenades, arias, and ecumenical pieces. In fact, Messiah is one of the most popular pieces of choral music in the world today and is commonly performed during the festive season. Handel decided to compose English oratorio in the 1730s thus Messiah is also the most famous composition of this genre. Three parts of Messiah focus on Christ’s birth and life. The text of His story consists of the parts of the Bible and the Psalms which belonged to the Book of Common Prayer of Anglican churches. The original oratorio was initially performed in 1742 in the city of Dublin, Ireland. Later, Handel decided to use it for annual charity performances to raise funds to support the Foundling Hospital in London (Cudworth).
Handel is remembered for employing successfully several hitherto unconventional musical instruments in his compositions. He managed to produce distinctive sounds despite the fact that he lacked the modern variety of the musical instruments. He was limited to the harpsichord and violin. For example, in Saul, he used harp, large kettledrums, and shofar, a Jewish musical instrument. His experiments further established him as an innovative composer of unique compositions which were nearly impossible to replicate and continued to be popular for a long time (Hunter 212).
Not only was Handel a proficient musician of the Baroque era, but he also had distinctive personal traits which made him and his music everlasting. In fact, he was persistent and remarkably resilient, especially when he had to encounter the crippling health conditions, such as blindness. For instance, even though he lost the sight in his left eye in 1750, he was still able to pursue his passion for music, to continue performing, and to compose another exquisite oratorio, Jephtha. Handel was rendered completely blind in 1752 when he lost the sight in his right eye. However, his fondness for music could not be influenced by his blindness. He continued to perform and compose music relying on his sharp memory (Cudworth).
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According to Hunter, the world still recognizes Handel for his brilliance and admires him for the capability to blend different styles of music and to create extraordinary compositions. For example, Water Music, written by Handel in 1717 at the request of Baron Kielmansegg for a private party hosted by George I, defined him as a genius composer. Handel’s ability to mix German, French, and English styles in its three suites portrayed him as the acknowledged master of the orchestra. It is believed that Handel composed Water Music to regain his Majesty’s favor, as Baron Kielmansegg suggested to him.
The world also remembers him for deviating from the norms thus enabling other composers to set new standards and compose unique music. This helped to define different eras of music, notably the transition from the Baroque to the Classical era. Moreover, Handle became an inspiration for other famous composers, such as Mozart and Beethoven. His influence can be attributed to the spectacular power and poetic beauty of his music (Burrows 64).
Cudworth states that another achievement that set Handel apart from his contemporaries and immortalized him is that he was the first composer to have a biography written about him. It appeared in 1760, a year after his death. He was also the first composer to have centenary celebrations of his birth between 1784 and 1786. Finally, he was the first one to have an unabridged edition of his music published.
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Apart from being a musical genius, Handel was considered to be a generous man even after his death. As a bachelor who did not have any children, his last will was to distribute his estate between his servants, the Foundling Hospital, and other several charity organizations. In addition, he ensured that his funeral was planned ahead of his death in order to ease the financial burden on his loved ones (Cudworth).
In conclusion, Handel was one of the greatest composers to have lived. His music which has been lasting for a long time proves this fact. Despite severe health conditions and blindness, his innovative thinking and genuine passion for music represented him as a devoted and talented composer who worked hard to achieve his goals. His influence on the music is undeniable since he has been recognized as a genius composer for centuries. Moreover, his compositions remain widely popular even nowadays.
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