La música digital en el IES Quercus 2006
  Una presencia en internet de los estudiantes de la ESO.
  George Frideric Handel 1685-1759
Born: February 23, 17, 1865 in Halle, Germany. Died: April 14, 1759 in London, England
Just as the classical masters Mozart and Haydn are often paired together, so too are the masters of the high baroque, Bach and Handel. And yet it is the differences that are at least as illuminating as are the points of comparison. Both composers were complete masters of the prevailing Italian and French styles that comprised the basic language of the Baroque. But whereas Bach effected a personal synthesis of the two styles with German counterpoint, Handel showed a strong early proclivity toward the extroverted and dramatic world of Italian opera, and ultimately became the most important composer of an essentially Italian style, albeit with a French grandeur.
Although he was certainly a virtuoso contrapuntalist, counterpoint was often for Handel a dramatic means, and not an end unto itself as it was for the more introverted Bach, composer of the Well Tempered Clavier and the Art of the Fugue. (Perhaps this is partly why Handel was a greater inspiration to Beethoven than was Bach.) Bach had no interest in opera but wrote instead profoundly religious cantatas, passions and masses, while treating the voice essentially as a melodic instrument with the most intricate demands of counterpoint expected of it. With Handel on the other hand, even religious oratorios such as the Messiah, have a theatrical quality that is not exclusively of the church and that communicates to an already burgeoning middle class audience. Handel's writing for the voice is completely idiomatic and the freer contrapuntal textures are more vocally conceived and are contrasted with powerful chordal writing. Finally, Bach, who never traveled outside of Germany, was not truly valued by the larger world until 75 years after his death, while Handel, the cosmopolitan composer and impresario, was internationally famous in his own lifetime.
Unlike Bach, George Frideric Handel was not born into a musical family, but his gifts were so obvious that his barber-surgeon father begrudgingly allowed him to take lessons from the director of music at the principal church in Handel's native town of Halle, in Saxony. Handel became an accomplished organist, harpsichordist, and studied violin and oboe. His knowledge of counterpoint and contemporary composition came from the time honored method of copying scores of other composers. At the age of 18, rather than become a church cantor, Handel went to Hamburg, the center of German opera, where he stayed until 1706. Here he composed his first opera, "Amira," performed in 1705.
From 1706 to 1710, Handel was in Italy, where he had contact with the major musicians in Rome, Florence, Venice, and Naples. He was recognized as an emerging talent and met among others, Corelli, Allesandro Scarlatti and his son Domenico, who was exactly Handel's age. By the time Handel left Italy at the age of 25 to become Music Director at the Court of Hanover, the basic foundation of his style had been developed.
Handel took an almost immediate leave from his new position and went to London where his opera "Rinaldo" caused a sensation. In 1712, he was granted a second leave on condition that he return "within a reasonable time." Two years later he was still in London when the Elector of Hanover was proclaimed King George I of England. Legend has it that the truant Handel restored himself to the good favor of the new monarch by composing wind music to be played as a surprise for the King's boating party. This music was published in 1740 under the title "Water Music." Meanwhile, Handel settled down to a long and prosperous career in London where Italianate music had always found favor, becoming a naturalized citizen in 1726.
Around this time, sixty noble and wealthy men formed a joint stock company called the Royal Academy of Music to present the fashionable Italian operas to the public. Handel and two Italians, Bonosini and Ariosti, were engaged as composers. This company flourished from 1720 to 1728 and for it Handel produced some of his finest operas, including "Giulio Cesare" in 1724. However by 1728, with the success of Gay's "The Beggars Opera" in English, it was clear that the public was growing tired of Italian opera. When the company dissolved, Handel took over the theater with a partner and became an entrepreneur, traveling to Italy and dealing with increasingly highly paid and temperamental singers as well as composing. In the 1730's however, Handel realized that his style of opera could no longer be financially successful and he turned to a kind of composition that could be mounted at less expense, namely the English oratorio (Overture from "Julius Caeser in Egypt;" Arrival of the Queen of Sheba from "Solomon"), which can be said to be Handel's most original contribution to music.
Handel had already set English words in sections of some operas and most notably in "Alexander's Feast" in 1736. After suffering a stroke in 1737 caused by the strains of running an opera company, two works, "Saul" and "Israel in Egypt" established the popularity of the Handelian oratorio on biblical subjects in 1739. Handel at this time leased a theater for annual performances of Lenten oratorios and even improvised on the organ at intermissions. These performances completely won over the English public and made Handel's music supreme in England until Edward Elgar came to maturity in the late nineteenth century. All in all, Handel produced 26 oratorios, the most famous of course being the "Messiah," which was first performed in Dublin in 1742.
Although Handel was known to be imperious at times, and to have a huge temper as well as an enormous appetite, he was also known for his sense of humor and generous, honorable and pious nature. In his last seven years of life, Handel was blind and yet continued to conduct and revise his works with the help of his devoted friend, J.S Schmidt. By the time he died in London in 1759, he had become an English institution.
Although Handel's greatest music and innovations were in the field of vocal music, he composed superb intrumental music throughout his life. There include two groups of Concerti Grossi, Op.3 (1734) and Op.6 (1740) (Polonaise from Concerto Grosso No.3 in E-, Op.6), and five Concerti for orchestra (1741), as well as twelve organ concerti (Allegro from No.7 in F "The Cuckoo and the Nightingale;" No.6 in Bb). Eight "Suites de Pièces" for harpsichord published in 1733 contain much famous music, including the variations on a theme known as the "Harmonious Blacksmith" and the well-known Sarabande in D-. The fifteen solo sonatas of Op.1 (No.5 in F, Op.1 No.11; No.6 in B-, Op.1 No.9) published in 1724 are playable on a variety of instruments, such as the flute, oboe, and violin. In addition, there are many other duets, solo, and trio sonatas as well as the "Music for Royal Fireworks" (La Réjouissance; Minuet I & II) of 1749.
Handel, along with Bach, is one of the supreme glories of his age for many reasons, not the least of which is the sincerity and clarity of his emotional meaning. While Bach's profund religiosity is the result of a restless and questioning introspection, the more worldy Handel seems to be less troubled and more accepting, but no less believing in the givens of his faith. Handel and Bach stand above their contemporaries for the power and surety of their music. The underlying harmonic architecture, which is one of the great contributions of the Baroque, achieves an unprecedented richness and solidity with both composers. As with much of the greatest art, the music is often surprising, yet inevitable.
  Handel, George Frideric [1685-1759]
Organ Concerti Op.7, No.7 in F 'The Cuckoo and the Nightingale'
Copyright © Classical Archives, LLC. All rights reserved.
Selected images courtesy of Karadar Classical Music
  Organ Concerti Op.7, No.7 in F 'The Cuckoo and the Nightingale'
1 .Larghetto - (K.W.Whitcomb)   3 .Adagio - (K.W.Whitcomb)   4 .Larghetto - (K.W.Whitcomb)   5 .Allegro - (K.W.Whitcomb)        
  Air and Variations in E
Air and Variations in E - The Harmonious Blacksmith - (K.W.Whitcomb)                    
  Passacaile in G
Passacaile in G - (K.W.Whitcomb)