The New Student's Reference Work/Handel, George Frederick
Handel (hăn' dĕl), George Frederick, a famous musician and composer, was born at Halle in Saxony, Feb. 23,1685. His passion and genius for music were shown at an early age. When about eight, he was placed under Zachau, organist at Halle, and at nine he was master of the organ, violin and other instruments, and wrote a musical composition every week. His first opera, Almira, was brought out in January, 1705, and others followed rapidly. Two years later he went to Italy, where he spent three years and enjoyed a great triumph, visiting Florence, Rome, Naples and Venice. He then visited London, and in 1712 took up his residence there. In 1720 the Royal Academy was founded in the Haymarket, "to secure a constant supply of operas by Handel, to be performed under his direction." Here he remained for 17 years, and produced a great number of operas. His health broke down in 1737, and his career as manager and composer of operas was ended. After resting for a time, he recovered his health, and from this time gave his life to the production of English oratorios. This departure led to his greatest triumph. Saul, Israel in Egypt and the Ode for St. Cecilia's Day were all produced in 1739. The Messiah appeared in 1742, followed by many others during the next ten years. Handel's music had now taken wider possession than ever of the public, bringing him both fame and money. In 1750 he went abroad, and after his return wrote Jephthah, his last oratorio. In 1752 he had lost his sight almost entirely. He died at London, April 14, 1759. See Life by Rockstro.