|Česká Händelova společnost / The Czech Handel Society|
I. The Composer George Frideric Handel
Handel stood out and disappeared from the world in the mid-18th century as the last culmination of baroque musicality, as the last interpreter of the Bible, a childish giant, daydreaming hero, Siegfried and Samson in one person.
Bence Szabolcsi, 1958.
George Frideric Handel was born in Halle an der Saale (FRG, Saxony-Anhalt) on 23 February 1685, the son of a well-off burgess and of a Lutheran pastor's daughter. At the age of eighteen he left home for Hamburg where he composed his first opera in 1704. From 1706 to 1710 he stayed in Italy and achieved dazzling success there. In the year 1710 he assumed, for a short time, the post of court kapellmeister to the Elector of Hanover. From 1712 onwards he lived permanently in London, having chosen England for his second homeland. In this country he enjoyed recognition and admiration, but he also had to cope with numerous hindrances and come to terms with failures and ailing health. Towards the end of his life, England accepted him as her national composer. He died, unmarried, in London on 14 April 1759 and was buried in Westminster Abbey; hosts of Londoners attended the funeral ceremony.
Handel, the hero of baroque music, bequeathed to mankind a singular artistic heritage. We know altogether 612 compositions by him. Many of his 42 operas and 26 oratorios are among the most valuable examples that have been created in European music. In his works Handel was striving for an impressive synthesis of various national styles. Besides the consummate mastery of composition and striking dramatic content, his music is noted for inward pathos and ravishing optimism. George Frideric Handel not only entertained the audiences, but he also educated them according to the principles of the Enlightenment.