George Frideric Handel

[Handel] is the only person I would wish to see before I die, and the only person I would wish to be, were I not Bach. -- Bach

Handel is the greatest composer who ever lived. I would bare my head and kneel at his grave. -- Beethoven

Although born a German, George Frideric Handel (1685-1759), together with English composer Henry Purcell (who was to greatly influence Handel), was one of the leading composers of English Baroque music. A German-born Baroque composer, Handel spent most of his adult life in England, becoming a subject of the British Crown on 22 January 1727. His most famous works are Messiah, an oratorio set to texts from the King James Bible, Water Music and Music for the Royal Fireworks.

Handel was born in Halle in the Duchy of Magdeburg (province of Brandenburg-Prussia) in 1685, the same year that both Johann Sebastian Bach and Domenico Scarlatti were born. In 1710 he was appointed Kapellmeister (director of music) to the Elector of Hanover (who in 1714 became King George I of England).

In 1723 Handel moved into a newly built house in 25 Brook Street, London, which he rented until his death in 1759, 36 years later. The house is now the Handel House Museum, a restored Georgian house open to the public with an events programme of Baroque music. In 2000, the upper stories of 25 Brook Street were leased to the Handel House Trust, and, after an extensive restoration program, the Handel House Museum opened to the public on 8 November 2001.

Few people could fail to be moved by the music of Handel. When writing the Messiah, he thought he was being inspired by angels.

On his death, he was accorded a full state funeral and buried in Westminster Abbey, an honour accorded to few foreigners.

(c) Keith Parkins 2008 -- February 2008 rev 1