Page:Romain Rolland Handel.djvu/23

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HIS LIFE

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he then wrote, none were preserved by him.[1] But it is certain that his memory retained more than one idea to serve in later compositions, for he never lost anything, and from that time for the rest of his life he retained in his mind his earlier musical ideas. This should not be attributed to his speed in working, but to the unity of his thought and his strenuous search for perfection.

Handel renewed neither his yearly engagement at the Cathedral of Halle nor at the University. In his period as organist he had gauged his own musical force and he no longer wished to constrain it. A wider field of activity was necessary. He quitted Halle in the spring of 1703, and guided both by his instincts and by a preference of his master Zachau[2] he betook himself to Hamburg, the city of German Opera.

Hamburg was the Venice of Germany. A free town far from the noise of wars, a refuge of artists, and people of large fortunes, the centre of the commerce of Northern Europe, a cosmopolitan city

  1. There are attributed to him two oratorios (very doubtful), one Cantata, Ach Herr mich armen Sünder; and a Laudate Pueri for Soprano solo, which are anterior to his departure for Hamburg.
  2. Alfred Heuss was the first to show what attraction the musical drama had for Zachau, who introduced it even into the Church. Some of his cantatas, the 4th, for example, Ruhe, Friede, Freud und Wonne, very unjustly criticised by Chrysander, is a fragment of a fantastic opera where one finds David tormented by evil spirits. The declamation is expressive, and the choruses have a highly dramatic effect. Thus we see the theatrical career of Handel was prepared in Halle, and perhaps it was Zachau himself who sent Handel to Hamburg (A. Heuss: Fr. Wilh. Zachau als dramatischer Kantaten-Komponist}. (I.M.G., May, 1909).