George Frideric Handel (1685–1759)

How to say the name:

‘Handel’ is said like the word handle. ‘George’ is easy to say, and ‘Frideric’ is said like ‘Free-der-rick’.

Born:

23rd February 1685 in Halle, Germany.

Monument to Handel in Westminster Abbey

Died:

14th April 1759 in London.

Buried:

Westminster Abbey, London.

Type of Music:

Classical music from the baroque period.

Some famous pieces:
  • The ‘Hallelujah’ chorus (from the ‘Messiah’). (See below for a video.)
  • Largo (Ombra mai fù from the opera Xerxes).
  • Zadok the Priest.
Some great pieces:
  • The Messiah. (See the video of the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ below for an example.)
  • Water Music.
  • Music for the Royal Fireworks. (See below for a video.)
  • Organ Concertos Op. 7.
  • Operas such as ‘Agrippina’, ‘Alcina’ and ‘Xerxes’.
Some interesting facts:
  • He was the Kapellmeister (person in charge of music) for George, Elector of Hanover. This ‘George’ became George I, King of England. So Handel became the offical composer for the King.
  • ‘Zadok the Priest’ was written for the coronation of George II in 1727. It has been used at every British coronation ever since!
  • ‘Music for the Royal Fireworks’ was written to go with a fireworks display.
  • ‘Water Music’ was written to be played on a boat as the King travelled along the river Thames in London.
  • It is traditional to stand up when the ‘Hallelujah’ chorus is being played. There is a story that George&#160II was so moved when he heard it, that he stood up—and if the King stood up, this meant everyone else had to too!
  • This is what Beethoven said about Handel: “He is the greatest composer that ever lived. I would uncover my head and kneel before his tomb.”

Here is a video of the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah. (You might want to stand up when you watch this!!)

The ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ from Handel’s Messiah

And here is a video of part of Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks, complete with fireworks (and royalty!!)!

La Réjouissance from Handel’s ‘Music for the Royal Fireworks’

Picture credits:
  1. George Frideric Handel. This is a painting from 1733. The image is in the public domain. Click here for the source of this image, along with the relevant copyright information.
  2. Monument to Handel in Westminster Abbey. This would appear to be an old drawing of the monument to Handel in Westminster Abbey by Roubilliac. If so, the image will be in the public domain. Click here for the source of this image.
Video credits:
  1. Haendel Le Messie : Hallelujah. Concert des Lycées 2005 Chorale et orchestre constitué de lycéens et quelques professeurs, apres 5 mois de travail! This translates as: ‘Concert of the Colleges 2005 Choral society and orchestra made up of high-school pupils and some professors, after 5 months of work!’.
  2. La Réjouissance-Music for the Royal Fireworks. Prom at the Palace—The Queen’s Jubilee Concerts, Buckingham Palace(2002) under the baton of Andrew Davis.

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lucy 24th January 2012

Hiya,

This information is extremely useful- so thank you! But I was wondering if anyone knew any interesting or unusual facts on the Royal Fireworks (the music- obviously).

2 Malcolm Pullan 24th January 2012

Thank you for your comment Lucy. It turns out that I do know some interesting and unusual facts about the Royal Fireworks music. This information is about what the music was written for, and the first performance.

The Royal Fireworks music was written on request of King George II to celebrate an English victory over the French. The music was written to be performed outside with fireworks and cannon fire. The first performance was on 27th April 1749. On 21st April there was a rehearsal in London open to the public. About 12,000 people came. This caused a traffic jam. Traffic went nowhere on London Bridge for about three hours (does that sound familiar?)! Not only that, fights broke out, including sword fights.

But worse was to come with the actual performance on the 27th. For that a huge stage was built in Green Park, London. It made of wood and in the form of a temple. The musicians played on the stage and the fireworks were placed around it. A large number of people, including the King were watching. The music began. Then came cannon fire. Finally the fireworks… But the fireworks didn’t go off properly. They set fire to the wooden stage and it was burnt to the ground! In the confusion, the person who designed the stage drew his sword on a Duke and was arrested!!

The whole thing was a disaster… Well, not quite. Everyone agreed that the music was great!

So… next time you hear about trouble at a big music event (such as a rock concert), remember that there has been trouble in the past at classical music concerts too! Some things never change!!

3 Nelissa Lenjau 8th March 2012

Woooowwwww.this is cool…this website is very interesting and educative. I’m ONE of Handel’s fans 🙂 yuhuiiiiiiii :p

4 Jasmine 30th April 2012

This helped me

5 Christina 20th September 2012

Wow, this kinda helped me.. c: Yaaay. Umm..Bye! 😀

6 Niall Horan 24th September 2012

This is brilliant! xx

7 Simone 5th October 2012

Thx for the help! It helped me for a social studies project about classical muscians
But did beetoven actually say that?? WOW if thats true than he must be great!
Thx agian 🙂

8 zara 7th March 2013

thanks this was soooooooooooo helpful!!!!! doing last minute homework 😐

9 jessica 7th March 2013

this was really niceeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

10 Bryan 7th September 2013

Thanks zara I totally agree. Since doing late composer work for music school this site is helping a lot!!!

11 jake dawber 25th March 2014

When was the last time Zadok the priest was officially played as a coronation anthem? Who was it played for?

12 Malcolm Pullan 26th March 2014

The last time Zadok the Priest was used at a coronation would have been the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. This coronation took place on 2nd June 1953.

13 Tom Pettit 9th February 2015

I luv Handel, he waz an amazing person. He iz my inspiration!!!!!!!
I want 2 be HANDEL!!!

14 karen 10th September 2015

so helpful couldn’t find any other website to help me and great composer

15 miah 16th September 2015

THANK YOU IT HELPED : )

16 Bobbity Boo 30th November 2015

This was so much help on finding information about my FAVOURITE COMPOSER EVA!!! #Handelforthewin <3

17 jackson 12th January 2016

this helped me so much cheers for all the help!

18 Christopher 19th March 2016

Awesome

19 Lily 18th October 2016

Same very usful

20 Julianna 5th February 2017

Thanks!! I am doing a display for student achievement day, and I used this info in it!! Is there any other fun facts I am missing?

21 Seth 13th March 2017

Thank you you are so helpful

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