George Frederick Handel

George Frideric Handel was born in Halle Germany on February 23, 1685.  He was born the same year as another famous composer Johanne Sebastian Bach.  Handel is famous for composing operas, oratorios, and other concert music.  Handel displayed talent at an early age, and was very interested in music.  By age 7 he played harpsichord and pipe organ well enough to perform concerts.  However, Handel’s Father did not like that he wanted to be a musician, and encouraged him to become a lawyer. Handel’s mother encouraged him to learn music, and his aunt purchased him a spinet (piano) to keep in the attic and practice.  Handel’s father died in 1702, and Handel began to study law.  However, he stopped law school and became a church organist soon after.


Handel moved to Hamburg Germany and produced two small operas.  In 1706 he then moved to Italy to continue his musical training.  In Italy he wrote more operas. Handel is famous for composing 42 operas, 29 oratorios (which tell and story and are completely sung like an opera, but are not acted out)  and many more styles of music such as trios, duets, cantatas and other pieces.


In 1712 Handel moved to England and became a citizen. He lived in London until his death.  In London, Handel became the court musician for King George I of Great Britain.  It was there he wrote some of his most famous pieces including:  Water Music, Music for the Royal Fireworks, and Messiah. The Messiah is one of Handel’s best known pieces, most famous of which is the “Hallelujah Chorus” which is frequently performed at Christmas time every year, all over the world. 


In 1737 at age 52 Handel suffered from a stroke, which left his right arm paralyzed.  Also in 1750 he was in a carriage accident while traveling between London and Germany and was seriously injured.  In 1751 he began to lose his eyesight.  And finally on April 14, 1759 Handel died, shortly after hearing a performance of his own “Messiah”.