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George Frideric Handel was born on February 23, 1685 in Halle, Brandenburg, Germany. At a young age, music peaked the interest of Handel. His barber-surgeon father, Georg, disregarded his son’s desire, maintaining his position that music was not a realistic source of income. Handel’s mother Dorothea, however, was supportive of his musical development and assisted her son in secretly practicing.  Soon after, when playing the organ for the duke’s court in Weissenfels, Handel was discovered by fellow organist and composer Frideric Wilhelm Zachow, who invited the young boy to become his student. By the time Handel was merely ten years old, Zachow had assisted his pupil in mastering composition for the organ, oboe, and violin.  When Handel was 11, his father passed away. Although Handel continued composing church compositions for voice and chamber music throughout his teenage years, he gave into his father’s insistence and enrolled as a law student at the University of Halle at age 18. Handel soon left college to join the Hamburg opera orchestra as a violinist and harpsichordist.  As he traveled through Italy as a young man, Handel became inspired by many Italian musicians of the time, including Alessandro Scarlatti, his son Domenico Scarlatti, and Arcangelo Corelli. These musicians and more influenced Handel to begin composing his own musical works, beginning with his first opera, Almira, which premiered in Hamburg in 1705. Handel’s years of musical composition in Italy accumulated two more operas, several Italian solo vocal compositions referred to as “cantatas,” numerous Latin church pieces, and two oratorios. By 1710, Handel had become a national success and was receiving high acclaim for his new opera, Agrippina, after it premiered in 1709 — on the day after Christmas — in Venice. In the spring of 1710, Handel left Venice for Hanover, Germany.  Upon arriving in Hanover, Handel was named Kapellmeister, or conductor, to George, Elector of Hanover, who later became George I of Great Britain. Over the following years, Handel journeyed to England frequently for the production and performance of several operas, including Rinaldo (1711), Il pastor fido (1712), Taseo, Ode for the Queen’s Birthday, and the Utrecht Te Deum and Jubilate (all 1713). The latter two earned Handel an extension of royal favor, and he was granted an allowance of £200 per year by Queen Anne.  In 1718, after choosing to stay in England due to favorable recognition by high-class society, Handel became the director of music to the first Duke of Chandos, James Brydges. Handel became an official royal subject in February of 1727 and was subsequently appointed as a composer of the Chapel Royal. From this position came many of Handel’s esteemed compositions, such as the Coronation Anthems for George II in 1727 and the Funeral Anthem for Queen Caroline 10 years later. Following the decline of Italian-style opera in England during the the mid 18th century, Handel began to capitalize on the rising English “oratorio” genre of vocal performance which dramatized a story, without acting or scenery, starting with Deborah and Athalia in 1733. Despite the downfall of opera, however, Handel continued to comanage an Italian opera company in London through difficulties until 1737, when the company fell bankrupt. Soon after, Handel suffered what is thought to have been a mild stroke and was treated in Aachen, Germany.  Following Handel’s recovery, the composer was at his peak of musical genius and notoriety. On April 13, 1742, Handel premiered his most famous oratorio to this day, Messiah, which featured the “Hallelujah” chorus, in Dublin. The last of his oratorios, Jephtha, was performed in 1952 at Covent Garden Theatre in London. George Frideric Handel died on April 14, 1759, and he is buried in Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey.  The Baroque time period was a plethora of Western culture, as seen through not only music, but also art, architecture, and society. Other famous composers from the era were Johann Sebastian Bach, Claudio Monteverdi, Alessandro Scarlatti, Antonio Vivaldi, Heinrich Schütz, and Jean-Baptiste Lully. Handel’s most influential work was the vocal compositions of the time, such as opera, oratorio, and cantata; however, instrumental composers created sonatas, concertos, and overtures. In the course of history, Baroque music was known for its dramatic and energetic spirit. As for its other characteristics of culture, the Baroque period maintained the grandeur of its musical style through its display of the visual arts and architecture. Expanding upon the beliefs of the Counter-Reformation taking place during the era, Baroque art emphasized beauty within religious images in order to honor the divine. The ceilings of Baroque churches featured painted scenes representing the view of the heavens for the average churchgoer.  Another aspect of Baroque art was focused in a new cultural interest in nature. Catalyzed by scientific developments and exploration of new lands, citizens of the era began to share a sense of human insignificance within the mystery and complexity of the natural world. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, the landscape painting developed itself into a statement upon these themes and how they affected the human condition. With the powerful reign of absolute monarchies during the Baroque era, architecture presented itself in a similar fashion. As a representation of the centralization and power of royalty, Baroque palaces were built on a monumental scale to display prominence. 

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