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Halle (Germany) February, 24th 1685 - London (UK) April, 14th 1759
Although he never received a musical education from his family, Georg Friedrich shows very early exceptional talents. Friedrich Zachow was his only teacher to learn composition, counterpoint, as well as organ, violin, oboe and harpsichord.
In 1702, he became organist at Halle's Cathedral but the year after, he headed for Hamburg where he composed his first opera Almira.
In 1706, he was invited by Gian Gastone de' Medici and went to Italy to compose oratorios (Il triunfo del Tempo e del Disinganno ou La Resurrezione), operas (Rodrigo et Agrippina successful in Venetia), cantatas and religious compositions.
He was named Kapellmeister at the Electors Court of Hanover and went to London for one year where he successfully introduced the Italian opera Rinaldo to the audience. Händel moved permanently to England in 1712.
After the Te Deum d'Utrecht and the crowning of the Electors of Hanover as King of England, he was highly appreciated by the Royal Family and became private tutor of the King's granddaughters.
In 1719, he participated in the creation of the Royal Academy of Music and composed 14 Italian operas for the King's Theatre among which Radamisto, Giulio Cesare, Tamerlano and Rodelinda. Unfortunately, because of the competition with Bononcini, the rivalries between artists and the lack of money, they had no choice but to close the Academy in 1728.
He gathered a new troop and made Partenope, Ezio and Orlando, renewing with the success. By chance, Esther, an English oratorio, is a tremendous success. He kept on composing operas despite the rivalries with the Nobility Academy supported by the nobility. They employed the famous eunuch Farinelli whom Händel couldn't afford to hire. Both rival academies went bankrupt in 1734. Händel was forced to present its masterpieces at Covent Garden. Thanks to the help of the French dancer Marie Sallé he created Ariodante and Alcina.
In 1737, an heart attack half paralyses him, his recovery in Aix-la-Chapelle is a miracle. Back in England, his operas where not successful anymore and reluctantly, he began to compose oratorios.
In 1741, he writes The Messie in less than one month. The others oratorios Samson or Salomon are having hard time because the use of biblical texts in theater is choking some audience. Nevertheless, Händel composes a lot: Semele, Hercules, Theodora or Jephta. but also instrumental music (Music for the Royal Fireworks) and religious pieces.
Despite a cataract operation, he became blind in 1751. With the support of his friend John Christopher Smith, he composes his master piece The triumph of Time and Truth in 1757. He died in 1759.
Händel has mastered the art of assimilating different European musical styles to put the oratorio and the opera seria forward.