Too Hot to Handel

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On April 27 at St. Mark’s Cathedral, the Seattle Baroque Orchestra and the Byrd Ensemble will present Georg Handel’s most enduring work, Messiah. You can learn more about the event here.

Before the concert, learn a thing or ten about arguably the most famous Baroque composer that ever lived.


1) Handel was born on February 23, 1685 in Halle-upon-Saale in Germany. It was the same year another famous composer was born—Johann Sebastian Bach.

2) Handel’s father wasn’t too keen on young Georg’s musical pursuits. He opposed it and forbid any musical instrument to enter the house. In the attic, Georg snuck in a small spinet.

3) In 1710, Handel became a Kapellmeister. What’s a Kapellmeister? The director of music for a nobleman. He was employed by German prince George, the Elector of Hanover, who would, in 1714, become King George I of Great Britain and Ireland.

4) Handel permanently settled in London. 200-some years later another music legend lived in the same house Handel did. That man? Jimi Hendrix.

5) Handel became quite the opera star. In just twelve months, between 1724 and 1725, he wrote three successful operas: Giulo Cesare, Tamerlano, and Rodelinda. In his career, he wrote 42 operas.

6) Handel composed his first oratorio in 1707. Messiah was composed in 1741.

7) Messiah was first performed as part of an Easter celebration in Dublin, Ireland on April 13, 1742. 700 people attended the premiere. To make sure as many could attend as possible, gentlemen were asked to remove their swords and ladies not wear hoops in their dresses.

8) Of course, the most famous section of the piece is the “Hallelujah” chorus.

9) In 1751 Handel’s eyesight began to fail. He became completely blind the following year.

10) Handel died in 1759 and was buried at Westminster Abbey. The last performance he ever attended? Messiah.

Listen to Handel’s masterwork on April 27 at St. Mark’s Cathedral. Buy your tickets today.

 

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