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Royalty Free Music - George Frideric Handel

George Frideric Handel - Biography

George Frideric Handel was a great composer of the Baroque period, who blended a clear, attractive compositional style with new and standard orchestral instruments to create bold and fresh music which still has great appeal today.

Handel (known in Germany as George Friedrich Handel, in France as Haendel) was born in Halle, Germany on February 23rd, 1685, the same year of birth as both Bach and Scarlatti. His Father at first tried to disuade him from studying music, but following his mother's encouragement and the gift of a spinet from his Aunt, he showed such promise that he was put under the musical tutelege of Zachau, a talented composer and organist. Music studies ran parallel with law studies until the death of his Father, when Handel gave up law and moved from Halle to Hamburg, joining the opera house orchestra and taking pupils. Here he made friends and began composing seriously. Handel also applied for a job as organist in nearby Lubeck, but on visiting the city he withdrew his application on finding that one of the job conditions was to marry the rather unnattractive daughter of the current organist - Buxtehude.

Handel's travels at this time included Florence, Rome and Venice, where he met Georg Ludwig, Elector of Hanover, and took a post with him as Kapellmeister, following a short trip to London in 1710. During this London visit however, he found such a receptive climate for his music that after only 15 months back in Hanover working for Georg Ludwig he returned to England in 1712, and remained in London for the next fifty years. In August 1714, England's Queen Anne died, and was succeeded by Handel's previous employer Georg Ludwig who became King George I.

It was during Handel's time in London that most of his most famous music was written. The "Water Music" (HWV 348-390) was composed in 1717 and performed on a Thames barge for King George I. "Zadok The Priest" (HWV258, Coronation Anthem Number 1) was one of four anthems composed for the coronation of King George II and Queen Caroline in 1727, and has been performed at every British coronation since. The "Royal Fireworks Music" (HWV351) was written to celebrate the end of the war of Austrian succession in 1749. Handel's most well-known oratorio "Messiah" (HWV56), which includes the "Hallelujah" chorus, was composed in 24 days during the Summer of 1741 for a concert in Dublin in aid of local charities. It's first performance was on 13th April 1742 and was a great success.

All in all, Handel composed 120 cantatas, 42 operas, 16 organ concertos and 29 oratorios, as well as many other pieces. He died in London in 1759. He was given a full state funeral attended by 3000 mourners, and was buried in Westminster Abbey where a Roubiliac monument commemorates his life. His music was a great influence on Bach, Mozart and Beethoven, who proclaimed him "the master of us all". His compositions are still widely performed, and used to great effect in television and film production, with their bright tone colours and popular appeal.

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