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George Frideric Handel


George Frideric Handel was born on February 23, 1685 in Germany and became one of the most famous composers of the Baroque Period. George's father was a barber-surgeon.  Yes, you read correctly in the Baroque Period barbers cut hair but also did a lot of other things - they were dentists and performed some medical procedures including operations. George's father wanted him to be a lawyer even though George wanted to study music. His mother encouraged him and he was allowed to take keyboard and music composition lessons. His aunt gave him a harpsichord for his seventh birthday which Handel played whenever he had the chance


When he was 18 Handel started to study law because his father wanted him to do so. After a year he realized he was unhappy and decided to stop studying law and become a musician. He studied music and got jobs playing harpsichord, organ and violin. He also started composing and two of his operas were performed in 1705.

Handel was becoming a good opera composer, but he wanted to learn more, so he went to Italy for four years. Italy was the center of opera and Handel had some of his operas performed there. This made him famous. He also began writing music for church in the style of opera.


Handel moved back to Germany where he worked for the Elector (kind of like a President today) of Hanover, Germany. During this time he got permission to go to England for a year. He became famous in England and decided to move there. The Elector became the King of England so he allowed Handel to stay there.

Handel spent 35 years in London, became a British citizen and wrote his most famous music there. He had some health problems and he lost a lot of money when he produced some operas that were not successful. Even so, he was very popular and famous and wrote some music that is still used in ceremonies in England today. His most famous work is "The Messiah" which has the well-known "Hallelujah Chorus" (pronounce Halleluia).  


In 1751 Handel started to lose his eyesight.  Handel never married and even though he was famous he was a very private person. He died in London in 1759.  Eight days earlier he went to a concert of "The Messiah". More than 3,000 mourners went to his funeral and he is buried in Westminster Abbey, which is where the Kings, Queens and other important people from England are buried.

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