George Handel: Messiah

The Biography of George Handel

George was born on February 23, 1685 to parents Georg and Dorthea Handel. He was born in Halle,Germany.


George had a natural talent for music however, his father did not want him to play music or even own an instrument. But his mother supported this gift and would assist him so that he could continue to practice without his father knowing.


George then met a composer, Zachow and became his student - under his guidance he mastered the oboe, the violin and the organ. His father, Georg, still wanted him to pursue law as he did not believe one could make a living with music. George did enroll in law school but he did not remain there for long because his passion was music.


When George was 18 he pursued music full time. His first job was in the Hamburg's opera as a violinist. To earn extra money he would teach private lessons. This extra work allowed him to continue his dream of composing and playing music.


He officially became a composer at the age of 19. His first opera was Almira and it was a huge success - it ran for 20 years. He composed several more successful operas then decided to move to Italy.


While in Italy he composed two successful operas - Rodrigo and Agrippina. He wrote other dramatic pieces as well and while there started to hear more about the London music scene and decided he wanted to go there next.


While in London he wrote his most critically acclaimed piece - Rinaldo. This remains his most critically acclaimed work to date. After that he spent the next few years writing and performing for royalty.


He decided to make his home in London and became a British Citizen. He later formed his own music company. It went on to produce two operas a year for the next ten years but then the Italian opera started to lose popularity and Handel decided to go another direction.


Due to the work he was often very stressed. He suffered from anxiety and depression. He suffered a couple of strokes, and was blind in both eyes by 1752. Despite all of this he remained active in the music scene until April 14, 1759 when he passed away in his bed.

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Musical Era

Handel's style of music was Baroque. Baroque is a lively and tuneful type of music. It is emphasized by the analytic design of music. The music focuses on the mathematical structure of the pieces and is more elaborate and more ornamental. It tends to have a variety of everything - loud and soft - solos and ensembles. It brings everything into the opera.


George's operas contained all of this - they were lively and dramatic. They had various speeds and pitches.


One of his most popular was the Opera Messiah - this was originally written as an Easter Offering. He had changed from writing Italian compositions to English oratorio. Messiah was his 6th work in this area. It was not as popular when it first came out however over time has become one of his most best known and most performed in Western society. It is usually performed by full orchestra and has been adapted over the years for different settings.


Messiah even makes an appearance in modern movies. In Dumb & Dumber a piece from Messiah is played during the scene where Harry & Lloyd are walking a long the strip of highway. The opera continues to be performed around the world.

dumb & dumber - 2 lucky guys
Handel - Messiah - Hallelujah Chorus