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George Frideric Handel

February 23, 1685 - April 14, 1759
born in Halle, Germany, composed during the Baroque period
Most music lovers have encountered George Frederick Handel through holiday-time renditions of the Messiah's "Hallelujah" chorus. And many of them know and love that oratorio on Christ's life, death, and resurrection, as well as a few other greatest hits like the orchestral Water Music and Royal Fireworks Music, and perhaps Judas Maccabeus or one of the other English oratorios. Yet his operas, for which he was widely known in his own time, are the province mainly of specialists in Baroque music, and the events of his life, even though they reflected some of the most important musical issues of the day, have never become as familiar as the careers of Bach or Mozart. Perhaps the single word that best describes his life and music is "cosmopolitan": he was a German composer, trained in Italy, who spent most of his life in England.

Handel was born in the German city of Halle on February 23, 1685. His father noted but did not nurture his musical talent, and he had to sneak a small keyboard instrument into his attic to practice. As a child he studied music with Friedrich Wilhelm Zachow, organist at the Liebfrauenkirche, and for a time he seemed destined for a career as a church organist himself. After studying law briefly at the University of Halle, Handel began serving as organist on March 13, 1702, at the Domkirche there. Dissatisfied, he took a post as violinist in the Hamburg opera orchestra in 1703, and his frustration with musically provincial northern Germany was perhaps shown when he fought a duel the following year with the composer Matheson over the accompaniment to one of Matheson's operas. In 1706 Handel took off for Italy, then the font of operatic innovation, and mastered contemporary trends in Italian serious opera. He returned to Germany to become court composer in Hannover, whose rulers were linked by family ties with the British throne; his patron there, the Elector of Hannover, became King George I of England. English audiences took to his 1711 opera Rinaldo, and several years later Handel jumped at the chance to move to England permanently. He impressed King George early on with the Water Music of 1716, written as entertainment for a royal boat outing.

Through the 1720s Handel composed Italian operatic masterpieces for London stages: Ottone, Serse (Xerxes), and other works often based on classical stories. His popularity was dented, though, by new English-language works of a less formal character, and in the 1730s and 1740s Handel turned to the oratorio, a grand form that attracted England's new middle-class audiences. Not only Messiah but also Israel in Egypt, Samson, Saul, and many other works established him as a venerated elder of English music. The oratorios displayed to maximum effect Handel's melodic gift and the sense of timing he brought to big choral numbers. Among the most popular of all the oratorios was Judas Maccabeus, composed in 32 days in 1746. Handel presented the oratorio six times during its first season and about 40 times before his death 12 years later, conducting it 30 times himself. In 1737, Handel suffered a stroke, which caused both temporary paralysis in his right arm and some loss of his mental faculties, but he recovered sufficiently to carry on most normal activity. He was urged to write an autobiography, but never did. Blind in old age, he continued to compose. He died in London on April 14, 1759. Beethoven thought Handel the greatest of all his predecessors; he once said, "I would bare my head and kneel at his grave." ~ Rovi Staff, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Handel Arias

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Track List: Handel

Title: Scipione (Publio Cornelio Scipione), Opera, HWV 20
Title: Orlando, Opera, Hwv 31
Title: Serse (Xerxes), Opera, Hwv 40
Title: Samson, Oratorio, Hwv 57
Title: Rinaldo, Opera, Hwv 7
Title: Samson, Oratorio, Hwv 57
Title: Giulio Cesare In Egitto, Opera, Hwv 17
Title: Rodelinda, Regina De' Langobardi, Opera, Hwv 19
Title: Lotario, Opera, HWV 26
Title: Agrippina, Opera, Hwv 6
Title: Alexander Balus, Oratorio, Hwv 65
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Track List: The Handel Collection

Title: Solomon, Oratorio, Hwv 67
Title: Suite For Keyboard (Suite De Piece), Vol.1, No.5 In E Major ("The Harmonious Blacksmith"), Hwv 430
Title: Semele, Oratorio, Hwv 58
Title: Concerto A Due Cori No.1 In B Flat Major, HWV 332
Title: Organ Concerto In F Major, Op.4/5, Hwv 293
Title: Water Music Suite No.1 For Orchestra In F Major, Hwv 348
Title: Suite For Keyboard In C Major, HWV 443
Title: Harp Concerto in B flat major, Op.4/6, HWV 294
Title: Saul, Oratorio, Hwv 53
Title: Concerto Grosso In B Minor, Op.6/12, Hwv 330
Title: Suite For Keyboard (Suite De Piece), Vol.1, No.1 In A Major, Hwv 426
Title: Oboe Concerto In B Flat Major (No.2a), Hwv 301 (Possibly Spurious)
Title: Water Music Suite No.1 For Orchestra In F Major, Hwv 348
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Track List: As Steals the Morn: Handel Arias & Scenes for Tenor

Title: Alceste, Incidental Music, Hwv 45
Title: Semele, Oratorio, Hwv 58
Title: Il Trionfo Del Tempo E Del Disinganno, Oratorio, Hwv 46a
Title: Tamerlano, Opera, Hwv 18
Title: Samson, Oratorio, Hwv 57
Title: Rodelinda, Regina De' Langobardi, Opera, Hwv 19
Title: Esther, Oratorio, HWV 50a
Title: Jephtha, Oratorio, HWV 70
Title: L'allegro, Il Penseroso Ed Il Moderato (Pastoral Ode), Oratorio, Hwv 55
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Track List: Complete Organ Concertos

Disc 1
Title: Organ Concerto In G Minor, Op.4/1, Hwv 289
Title: Organ Concerto In B Flat Major, Op.4/2, Hwv 290
Title: Organ Concerto In G Minor, Op.4/3, Hwv 291
Title: Organ Concerto In F Major, Op.4/4, Hwv 292
Title: Organ Concerto In F Major, Op.4/5, Hwv 293
Title: Harp Concerto in B flat major, Op.4/6, HWV 294
Disc 2
Title: Organ Concerto In B Flat, Op.7/1, Hwv 306
Title: Organ Concerto In A Major, Op.7/2, Hwv 307
Title: Organ Concerto In B Flat, Op.7/3, Hwv 308
Title: Organ Concerto In D Minor, Op.7/4, Hwv 309
Disc 3
Title: Organ Concerto In G Minor, Op.7/5, Hwv 310
Title: Organ Concerto In B Flat Major, Op.7/6, Hwv 311
Title: Organ Concerto In F Major "Cuckoo & The Nightingale" (No.13), Hwv 295
Title: Organ Concerto In A Major (No.14), HWV 296a
Title: Organ Concerto In D Minor (No.15), HWV 304
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Track List: Concerti Grossi Op 3

Title: Concerto Grosso In B Flat Major, Op.3/1, Hwv 312
Title: Concerto Grosso In B Flat Major, Op.3/2, Hwv 313
Title: Concerto Grosso In G Major, Op.3/3, Hwv 314
Title: Concerto Grosso In F Major, Op.3/4a, Hwv 315
Title: Concerto Grosso In F, Op.3/4b (Spurious)
Title: Concerto Grosso In D Minor, Op.3/5, Hwv 316
Title: Concerto Grosso In D Major, Op.3/6, Hwv 317
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Track List: Coronation Anthems

Title: Coronation Anthems (4) For Chorus & Orchestra, HWV 258-261
Title: Silete Venti, Motet For Soprano & Strings In B Flat Major, HWV 242
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Track List: Flaming Rose: Handel German Arias And Trio Sonatas

Title: Das Zitternde Glänzen (German Aria No.2), Hymn, For Soprano & Continuo, HWV 203
Title: Künft' Ger Zeiten Eitler Kummer (German Aria No.1), Hymn For Soprano & Continuo, HWV 202
Title: Meine Seele Hört Im Sehen (German Aria No.6), Hymn For Soprano & Continuo, Hwv 207
Title: Trio sonata for 2 violins & continuo in F major, Op. 2/4, HWV 389
Title: Süsser Blumen Ambraflocken (German Aria No.3), Hymn For Soprano & Continuo, HWV 204
Title: Die Ihr Aus Dunkeln Grüften (German Aria No.7), Hymn For Soprano & Continuo, HWV 208
Title: In Den Angenehmen Büschen (German Aria No.8), Hymn For Soprano & Continuo, HWV 209
Title: Trio sonata for flute/violin, violin & continuo in B minor, Op. 2/1, HWV 386b
Title: Flammende Rose, Zierde Der Erden (German Aria No.9), Hymn For Soprano & Continuo, HWV 210
Title: Singe, Seele, Gott Zum Preise (German Aria No.5), Hymn, For Soprano & Continuo, HWV 206
Title: Süsse Stille, Sanfte Quelle (German Aria No.4), Hymn For Soprano & Continuo, HWV 205
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Track List: Haendel: Water Music & Music For The Royal Fireworks

Title: Water Music Suite No.1 For Orchestra In F Major, Hwv 348
Title: Water Music Suite No.2 For Orchestra In D Major, Hwv 349
Title: Music For The Royal Fireworks, For Orchestra, Hwv 351
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Track List: Handel - Acis and Galatea (A Masque in 2 Acts) / Amps · Doveton · Davidson · Scholars Baroque Ensemble · van Asch

Title: Acis And Galatea, Oratorio, Hwv 49
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Track List: Handel - Admeto / Jacobs, Yakar, Bowman, Dams, Cold, Gomez, van Egmond, Il Complesso Barocco, A. Curtis

Disc 1
Title: Admeto, Rè Di Tessaglia, Opera, HWV 22
Disc 2
Disc 3
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Track List: Handel - Alcina / Fleming, Graham, Dessay, Kuhlmann, Robinson, Naouri, Lascarro, Les Arts Florissants, Christie

Disc 1
Title: Alcina, Opera, Hwv 34
Disc 2
Disc 3
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Track List: Handel - Alexander's Feast / Argenta, Partridge, George, The Sixteen, Christophers

Disc 1
Title: Alexander's Feast, Ode For St. Cecilia's Day, Hwv 75
Title: Harp Concerto in B flat major, Op.4/6, HWV 294
Title: Alexander's Feast, Ode For St. Cecilia's Day, Hwv 75
Disc 2
Title: Organ Concerto In G Minor, Op.4/1, Hwv 289
Title: Alexander's Feast, Ode For St. Cecilia's Day, Hwv 75
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Track List: Handel - Almira / Monoyios, Rozario, Gerrard, Fiori musicali, Lawrence-King

Disc 1
Title: Almira (Der In Kronen Erlangte Glucks), Opera, HWV 1
Disc 2
Disc 3
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Track List: Handel - Apollo E Dafne · The Alchemist, Incidental Music / Pasichnyk · Pomakov · EU Baroque Orchestra · Goodman

Title: Concerto Grosso In B Flat Major, Op.3/1, Hwv 312
Title: Apollo E Dafne (La Terra è Liberata), Dramatic Cantata For Soprano, Bass & Orchestra, Hwv 122
Title: Alchemist, Incidental Music, HWV 43
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Track List: Handel - Ariodante / von Otter, Dawson, Cangemi, Podles, Croft, Sedov, Coadou, Les Musiciens du Louvre, Minkowski

Disc 1
Title: Ariodante, Opera, Hwv 33
Disc 2
Disc 3
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Track List: Handel - Athalia / E. Scholl · Schlick · Holzhausen · Reinhold · Brutscher · MacLeod · Martini

Disc 1
Title: Athalia, Oratorio, HWV 52
Disc 2
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Track List: Handel - Chandos Anthems (Complete) / Dawson · Kwella · Bowman · Partridge · M. George · The Sixteen · Christophers

Disc 1
Title: Chandos Anthem No.1 In D Major, "O Be Joyful In The Lord" (Jubilate) (Cannons), HWV 246
Title: Chandos Anthem No.2 In D Minor, "In The Lord Put I My Trust", HWV 247
Title: Chandos Anthem No.3 In C Minor, "Have Mercy Upon Me, O God", HWV 248
Disc 2
Title: Chandos Anthem No.4 In F Major, "O Sing Unto The Lord", HWV 249b
Title: Chandos Anthem No.5 In A, "I Will Magnify Thee, O God", Hwv 250c
Title: Chandos Anthem No.6 In E Minor, "As Pants The Hart", Hwv 251b
Disc 3
Title: Chandos Anthem No.7 In G, "My Song Shall Be Alway", HWV 252
Title: Chandos Anthem No.8 In A, "O Come Let Us Sing Unto The Lord", Hwv 253
Title: Chandos Anthem No.9 In E Flat, "O Praise The Lord With One Consent", HWV 254
Disc 4
Title: Chandos Anthem No.10 In G Minor, "The Lord Is My Light", HWV 255
Title: Chandos Anthem No.11 In B Flat, "Let God Arise", HWV 256
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Track List: Handel - Dixit Dominus · Salve Regina · Laudate pueri · Saeviat tellus / Massis · Kozená · Fulgoni · Henckens · McLean-Mair · Pujol · Les Musiciens du Louvre · Minkowski

Title: Saeviat Tellus Inter Rigores, Motet For Soprano, 2 Oboes, Strings & Continuo In D Major, HWV 240
Title: Laudate Pueri Dominum, Psalm, For Soprano, Chorus & Orchestra In D, Hwv 237
Title: Salve Regina, Antiphon For Soprano, Strings, Organ & Continuo In G Minor, Hwv 241
Title: Dixit Dominus, Hymn For Soloists, Chorus & Orchestra In G Minor, Hwv 232
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Track List: Handel - Gideon (Oratorio In Three Parts) / Junge Kantorei, Fbo, J.C. Martini

Disc 1
Title: Gideon, Oratorio (compiled From The Music Of Handel By John Christopher Smith)