Edward J. Dent
Part 2 out of 2
letter shows us that he must have admired _Alcina_ sufficiently to ask
the composer for a copy of the score. He also seized the opportunity of
offering him a libretto for a new oratorio. He had a very good opinion of
himself as a poet, and it is possible that he foresaw the importance of the
new type of semi-dramatic entertainment which Handel was creating. There
were plenty of Italian poetasters, even in London itself, who could put
together a conventional opera-book, but English oratorio was still in the
making, and it was not so easy to find a literary framework for it.
In any case, it was evident that Italian opera was a precarious enterprise.
In October the papers again gave out that Handel was going to give
oratorios and concerts at Covent Garden; no operas were announced, and for
the time being Handel appeared to have abandoned opera altogether. He made
no move until Lent 1736, and then brought out _Alexander's Feast_ (February
19), which he had set to music in the previous two months. Those ever
popular favourites _Esther_ and _Acis and Galatea_ followed it, and, as in
the foregoing season, Handel played organ concertos between the acts of
these works. It is evident that as Handel could not secure the great
Italian singers for his oratorios he felt obliged to offer his public some
other display of virtuosity, and his own performance on the organ seems to
have been considered a very powerful attraction.
The marriage of the Prince of Wales to Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha
(April 27, 1736) provided him with unexpected opportunities for coming
before the public. It seems to have been at the desire of the Princess
herself that he undertook a short Italian opera season of eight
performances, which eventually was extended to ten. _Atalanta_, Handel's
new opera for this season, in which the chief singer was Gizziello,
then making his first appearance in England, was composed especially to
celebrate the royal nuptials, and seems to have finally converted the
Prince of Wales to the music of Handel. He now became a regular supporter
of Handel's theatre, with the result that the King promptly withdrew his
patronage, as he refused to be seen in the same house as the Prince.
Encouraged by this sign of princely favour, Handel reopened Covent Garden
in November with a revival of _Alcina_, followed by _Atalanta_. Three more
new operas were ready, or nearly so; Handel seems to have prepared himself
for the winter in better time than usual. But neither _Arminio_ (January
12, 1737), nor _Giustino_ (February 16), nor even _Berenice_, with its
famous minuet (May 18), could save Handel from ruin. The rival opera-house
was in no better case. Handel was obliged to close Covent Garden on June 1,
and the Haymarket followed suit ten days later. Opera at both houses had
been killed, mainly by the folly of party strife.
Bankruptcy and paralysis--visit to Aix-la-Chapelle--the last
operas--Vauxhall Gardens--Handel's "borrowings"--visit to
Ireland--_Messiah_ and other oratorios.
The collapse of the Opera left Handel not only bankrupt, but with seriously
endangered health. In April 1737 it had been announced that he was
"indisposed with the rheumatism," from which he made a slight temporary
recovery; but before the season was over it became clear that he was
suffering from paralysis. "His right arm was become useless to him," says
Mainwaring, "and how greatly his senses were disordered at intervals, for a
long time, appeared from an hundred instances, which are better forgotten
than recorded." With some difficulty his medical advisers persuaded him to
go to the sulphur bath of Aix-la-Chapelle, where, according to Mainwaring,
he submitted to prolonged and drastic treatment. His cure was considered
remarkably rapid, and the nuns (presumably nursing sisters) who heard him
play the organ within a few hours of leaving his bath ascribed it to a
miracle. "Such a conclusion," observes our clerical biographer, "in such
persons was natural enough."
It has been asserted that during his stay at Aix, Handel composed a cantata
for the five-hundredth anniversary of the foundation of Elbing, a town in
East Prussia between Danzig and Koenigsberg. A German researcher about 1869
appears to have discovered documents at Elbing mentioning the cantata,
with the name of the poet and that of a local singer, Jean du Grain, who
composed the recitatives; Handel "of London" was said to have composed the
choruses. No trace of the music has survived, and there seems to be no
evidence whatever to connect this work with Handel's visit to Aix. Nor is
it possible to suggest any reason why the authorities of this remote place
should have applied to Handel for a composition.
According to Mainwaring, Handel stayed six weeks at Aix; the London papers
announced his return on November 7, 1737. The management of the Opera
had now been taken over by Heidegger, but the death of Queen Caroline on
November 20 caused all theatres to be closed from that date until the end
of December. It was announced in the papers that the Opera would reopen
on January 10 with a new oratorio by Handel, called _Saul_, but this
performance did not take place, and the theatre actually reopened on
January 7 with his new opera _Faramondo_. This opera was the first work
that Handel had undertaken after his return to London, but its composition
was interrupted by that of the Funeral Anthem for the Queen. Although she
died on November 20, Handel did not receive the King's command to write the
anthem until December 7, as George II was strangely undecided in making
arrangements for the funeral. It was finally fixed for December 17, and
a special organ was hurriedly built for it in Henry VII's chapel at
Westminster Abbey. Handel's anthem was performed by 80 singers and 100
instrumentalists. Queen Caroline had been one of his most faithful friends,
and his gratitude and affection for her found utterance in music which
Burney placed "at the head of all his works for expression, harmony and
It was at ten at night on Christmas Eve that Handel finished the score of
_Faramondo_; on Boxing Day he began the composition of _Serse_. _Faramondo_
had only six performances, and _Serse_ did not appear on the stage until
April 15, when it ran for five nights only. It is remembered now, if at
all, by the fact that the first song in it is the so-called "celebrated
Largo," but the opera as a whole is of curious interest. "He was neither
in health, prosperity, or spirits," says Burney, "when it was composed;
appearances remain in his foul score [i.e. rough copy] of a mind
disturbed, if not diseased. There are more passages, and even whole pages,
cancelled in this score, than in any one of all his former operas."
_Serse_, it must be explained, is a comic opera, and the only comic opera
that Handel ever wrote. What induced him to attempt this style it is
difficult to conceive. It is of course true that the failure of Handel's
earlier operas was largely due to the success of _The Beggar's
Opera_ (1728), and of other comic entertainments which succeeded
it--_Hurlothrumbo_ (1729), _Pasquin_ (1736) and _The Dragon of Wantley_
(1737). A new type of comic opera had arisen in Italy too, and comic
_intermezzi_ were first seen in Italian grand opera in London in January
1737, although it was not until 1748 that a real company of Italian
comic-opera singers came over to England. But what is more important to
notice is that the whole style of Italian opera was changing during the
second quarter of the century. Handel had continued to develop his own
style, based on the grand manner of old Scarlatti, but Handel's operas were
practically unknown outside London and Hamburg; in Italy, Scarlatti's style
had already become old-fashioned before his death in 1725, and opera was
moving on towards the lighter and flimsier manner of Galuppi, who first
came to London in this year of _Serse_, 1738.
In choosing the libretto of _Serse_, Handel seems to have been making a
desperate attempt to keep up with the taste of the day. Humour he had
in plenty; one has only to recall _Acis and Galatea_. But the humour of
_Serse_, diverting as it is to the modern historical student, is neither
the musical nor the dramatic humour of 1737; the plot bears no resemblance
whatever to the Neapolitan comic operas of Vinci and Pergolesi, but rather
recalls the very early operas, based on Spanish comedies, composed by
Alessandro Scarlatti in the 1680's. _Serse_ was revived a few years ago
in Germany, considerably cut about and reduced to one act, in which
arrangement it had some success; but we can well understand its complete
failure on its first London production.
The only satisfaction which Handel received in that unfortunate season of
1738 was the proceeds of his benefit concert at the Haymarket on March 28,
organised for him by his friends, apparently rather against his own wish.
According to Burney the net receipts were L800; Mainwaring puts the figure
at L1,500. Even if we accept Burney's estimate, the sum is remarkable,
and particularly so in view of the known hostility of a large section
of society towards the composer. It can only be supposed that Handel's
physical and mental collapse had been grave enough to awaken a wide-spread
sense of pity for his misfortunes. Another mark of popular appreciation
was the erection of a statue of Handel, executed by Roubiliac, at Vauxhall
Gardens, in recognition of the pleasure which his music had afforded to the
frequenters of that famous resort. This piece of "laudable idolatry," as
Burney calls it, was thus described by a contemporary journalist: "Mr.
Handel is represented in a loose robe, sweeping the lyre, and listening to
its sounds; which a little boy sculptured at his feet seems to be writing
down on the back of a violon-cello. The whole composition is in an elegant
taste." Commissioned by an impresario who had made a fortune out of the use
of Handel's music, it now appropriately adorns the vestibule of Messrs.
Novello's music-shop in Wardour Street.
Charles Jennens, writing to his cousin Lord Guernsey on September 19, 1738,
remarks that "Mr. Handel's head is more full of maggots than ever." Towards
the end of July he had begun the composition of _Saul_, for which Jennens
had provided the libretto three years before. It is evident that Handel
intended to startle his audiences with his new oratorio scheme. He had
ordered a new organ for the theatre at a cost of L500, constructed so that
he might have a better command of his performers, and he had also acquired
another instrument, which Jennens calls a "Tubalcain"--in other words a set
of bells played from a keyboard--which he intended to use in the scene in
which the Israelites welcome David after his victory over the Philistines.
It is curious that Handel should have dramatised the insanity of Saul just
after he had himself recovered from mental derangement.
No sooner was _Saul_ finished (September 27) than Handel, four days later,
began the composition of _Israel in Egypt_. _Saul_ was first performed on
January 16, 1739, and enjoyed a moderate success, but _Israel_ (April 4)
was a failure, even after it had been shortened and made more attractive by
the insertion of Italian opera songs.
_Israel in Egypt_ is the most conspicuous example of a strange and almost
unaccountable habit which from about this period began to show itself in
Handel's methods of composition--the incorporation of large quantities
of music by other composers. Samuel Wesley was the first person to draw
attention to this practice of Handel's, though only in a private letter of
1808. In 1831 Dr. Crotch, in his professorial lectures at Oxford, named no
less than twenty-nine composers whom Handel had "quoted or copied." The
researches of Chrysander, Dr. Max Seiffert, Ebenezer Prout, and Sedley
Taylor eventually proved beyond dispute that not only _Israel_, but several
other works of Handel were largely made up from the music of other men.
Chrysander maintained that Handel began appropriating other men's ideas
as early as 1707, for not only _Rodrigo_ and _Agrippina_, but also _La
Resurrezione_ and the _Laudate pueri_ show obvious reminiscences of
Keiser's opera _Octavia_ (Hamburg, 1705). These were probably subconscious,
like Handel's reminiscences of Scarlatti and others at this period; they
need not be taken any more seriously than Schubert's frequent reminiscences
of Beethoven. But in _Atalanta_ (1736) and _Giustino_ (1737), Prout
discovered quotations and adaptations several bars long from a _Passion_ by
Graun, which is known to have been composed not many years before. Further
fragments of this _Passion_ were identified by Prout in _Alexander's Feast_
and the _Wedding Anthem_ (1736); _Saul_, like _Israel_, incorporates
several movements from a _Te Deum_ by Urio (_fl_. 1660). From this date
onwards until the end of his career Handel systematically drew upon the
works of other musicians.
There has been much controversy over this question, and many attempts have
been made to explain away Handel's "borrowings" so as to leave no moral
stain on his character, which indeed, by all contemporary accounts, was
scrupulously upright. Sedley Taylor (1906) was certainly anxious to clear
Handel's character, but still more concerned to arrive at the exact truth,
and his method of presenting the evidence throws a new light on Handel's
procedure. He showed that in most cases Handel made frequent alterations in
the music which he utilised, almost as if Stradella (to cite one name
out of many) had been a young pupil to whom he was giving a lesson in
A careful study of these alterations suggests a reason for Handel's action
which seems not to have occurred to any previous writer on the subject. No
one seems to have noticed hitherto that Handel's "borrowings" begin in
1736 on a small scale, and become more frequent in 1737, after which they
develop into a regular habit. It seems only natural therefore to connect
them with Handel's mental collapse; it became acute in the spring of 1737,
but it may well have been approaching in the previous year.
There is no need to go so far as to suggest that Handel suffered from moral
insanity and was incapable of distinguishing between right and wrong; but
it is quite conceivable that his paralytic stroke affected his brain in
such a way that he may sometimes have had a difficulty in starting a
composition. Biographers of Handel have more than once drawn attention to
phases in which he seems to have suffered from the inability to make a
definite decision. Indecision is a common symptom of overstrained nerves,
and anyone who has attempted musical composition or taught it to students
will understand the hesitation and uncertainty which often attends the
first writing down of a musical theme, although, once the initial idea has
been settled, the continuation and development of it may proceed without
difficulty. Any musician who studies the examples printed by Sedley Taylor
will at once exclaim that for a man of Handel's experience, to say nothing
of his fertility or indeed of his genius, it would have been far less
trouble to compose an original setting of given words than to adapt them
so laboriously to music written by someone else for a totally different
purpose. But after his attack of paralysis there may well have been
occasional moments when Handel could not make up his mind to write down an
idea of his own, but may very likely have found that when once he had an
idea ready on paper before him, whether that of another composer or an
old one of his own, he could then continue to compose, and often make
alterations in the music under his eyes which transformed it from a
commonplace into a masterpiece.
In the autumn of 1739 Handel transferred his concerts to the smaller
theatre in Lincoln's Inn Fields, where at first there seemed some hope of
success. On November 17 he produced his setting of Dryden's _Ode for St.
Cecilia's Day_; it was repeated several times, _Alexander's Feast_ and
_Acis and Galatea_ being added to the programmes. But a month later an
exceptionally severe frost set in; the Thames was frozen over, and for two
months it was useless to open the theatre, owing to the impossibility of
warming it adequately. In February he produced _L'Allegro_, adapted by
Charles Jennens from Milton's _L'Allegro_ and _Il Penseroso_, to which
Jennens had added a third part of his own, _Il Moderato_; but the public,
whether from indifference to the work or from fear of the cold, refused to
come to it. Handel was once more on the verge of ruin, but that did not
prevent him from giving a performance of his two most popular works, _Acis_
and _Alexander's Feast_, for the benefit of a new musical charity.
The charity in which Handel was so keenly interested had been founded in
1738 to assist impoverished musicians and their families; it still carries
on its honourable work under the title of the Royal Society of Musicians of
The same year saw the inauguration of another charitable institution which
owed much to the continued generosity of Handel, the Foundling Hospital.
Like Hogarth, who was also a benefactor, Handel did not confine his support
to an occasional gift, but took the warmest personal interest in the place,
and eventually both he and Hogarth were made governors of it.
The managers of the Opera had found themselves quite unable to continue
productions on the grand scale of former years. In the winter of 1739-40
there had been an insignificant season at Covent Garden; it seems to have
been directed by the Italian composer Pescetti, who, in the following
winter, started concerts at the Little Theatre in the Haymarket. Mrs.
Pendarves, who during the last few years had not lived much in London, and
had thus dropped out of Handel's life, wrote in November: "The concerts
begin next Saturday at the Haymarket. Carestini sings, Pescetti composes;
the house is made up into little boxes, like the playhouses abroad." Dr.
Burney gives a comic account of the undertaking. "The opera, a tawdry,
expensive and meretricious lady, who had been accustomed to high keeping,
was now reduced to a very humble state. Her establishment was not only
diminished, but her servants reduced to half-pay. Pescetti seems to
have been her prime minister, Carestini her head man, the Muscovita her
favourite woman, and Andreoni a servant for all work." Concerts and
_pasticcios_ formed the main repertory, and Burney ascribes such success as
they enjoyed to the fact that the Little Theatre was a "snug retreat" in
which those who had the courage to quit their firesides during the great
frost might keep reasonably warm.
Handel had nothing to do with this theatre, but in 1740 again rented the
theatre in Lincoln's Inn Fields, where on November 8 he revived _Parnaso
in Festa_ "in its original oratorio manner, with the addition of scenes,
dresses and concertos on the organ and several other instruments." It had
but one performance; on the 22nd, Handel produced a new opera, or, as
Burney calls it, an _operetta_, which had no more than two performances.
This was _Imeneo_. On January 10, 1741, he brought out another new opera,
_Deidamia_, which ran for three nights. _Imeneo_ is a work of little
importance; _Deidamia_, on the other hand, contains several very beautiful
songs. But Dr. Burney, notwithstanding his admiration of it, has to admit
that much of it was old-fashioned, in the style of Handel's youth, and
sometimes "languid and antique." To Handel's admirers to-day such criticism
may seem ridiculous, but to his audiences of 1741 these reversions to an
earlier style would certainly have been most unwelcome.
_Deidamia_ was Handel's last work for the stage; the glorious achievements
of his youth and maturity had come to a hopeless end. His own public had
unjustly neglected him, posterity consigned his operas to oblivion.
At some period during the summer of 1741 Handel received an invitation from
the fourth Duke of Devonshire, then Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, to go over
to Dublin and give concerts there for the benefit of the local hospitals.
It is very probable that Mrs. Pendarves may have helped to secure this
engagement for Handel. She had spent a year and a half in Ireland in
1731-32, and her letters give a lively account of society in Dublin.
Matthew Dubourg, an excellent violinist, was at the head of the Viceroy's
band, and musical entertainments were frequent, for to judge from Mrs.
Pendarves' descriptions the Irish bishops and deans lived almost as
magnificently as the cardinals in Rome. Mrs. Pendarves was naturally a very
popular guest in Dublin society; she was a remarkably fine harpsichord
player for an amateur, and was constantly in demand as a performer at
private parties. There was no one in London or Dublin who had a more
intelligent understanding of Handel's music, and her enthusiasm for his
works was unbounded. She kept constantly in touch with Dublin life when in
England, for she corresponded with Dean Swift, and, what was more important
still, she had in 1730 made the acquaintance of Dr. Delany, an Irish
clergyman, whom she was to marry in 1743.
Handel did not leave London until the first week of November. During
the summer he had been occupied with the composition of a new oratorio,
_Messiah_, the words for which had been chosen and arranged by Jennens,
apparently with a good deal of assistance from his chaplain, the Rev. Mr.
Pooley. Whether _Messiah_ was composed with a view to production in Dublin
is not known; it was begun on August 22 and finished on September 14. A
fortnight later he had completed the first act of _Samson_. On the way to
Holyhead he stopped at Chester, where he was obliged to stay several days
on account of contrary winds which prevented his embarking. He seized
the opportunity to try over some of the choruses of _Messiah_ with local
church-singers, and Burney, who was at school at Chester, gives an amusing
account of the little rehearsal, at which Handel was roused to grotesque
fury by the inability of the bass, a printer by trade, to read "And with
His stripes" at sight. On November 18 he arrived in Dublin, and opened his
season at Neal's new music-hall in Fishamble Street on December 23 with a
performance of _L'Allegro_, interspersed with concertos. A few days later
he wrote a long letter to Jennens describing the unprecedented success
which he had enjoyed. Dublin received him with open arms, and he thoroughly
enjoyed his triumph, the more so as he felt himself to be in unusually good
A series of concerts followed, at which various oratorios and other works
were performed. On April 8, 1742, there was a rehearsal of _Messiah_, open
to those who had taken tickets for the first performance, which took place
on Tuesday, April 13. The choir was provided by the singers from the two
cathedrals, some of whom took the male solo parts as well; the female
soloists were Mrs. Cibber and Signora Avolio. Over seven hundred persons
were present, and about L400 was divided between the three charities, the
Relief of Prisoners, Mercer's Hospital, and the Charitable Infirmary.
_Saul_ was performed on May 25, and a second performance of _Messiah_ took
place on June 3. Handel left Ireland on August 13. In another letter to
Jennens he says that his plans for the winter are undecided; for "this time
twelve-month" (i.e. September 1743) he intended to continue his oratorios
in Ireland. For some reason or other this second visit to Ireland never
It was not until February 17, 1743, that Handel came before the London
public again with _Samson_, which, unlike most of his oratorios, had
an immediate success. He had by this time dropped the Italian singers
altogether, and depended mainly on Mrs. Cibber and John Beard, a tenor who
had more sense of artistic style than power of voice. Mr. Flower says that
his voice was more powerful than sweet; Horace Walpole, who heard him, said
that he had only one note in it, and Mrs. Pendarves, whose judgment was
probably more trustworthy, said that he had no voice at all. The first
London performance of _Messiah_ was given on March 23, but it had no more
than two subsequent repetitions this season. There were many reasons why it
should have fallen flat. Jennens himself was extremely dissatisfied with
it. _Israel_ had been a failure too, and it is extremely probable that
musical people, accustomed to the Italian opera, were estranged by a
setting of Bible words in prose instead of a libretto in verse laid out on
more or less dramatic lines.
William Law's _Serious Call_ had been published in 1729; the book makes
frequent allusions to the frivolity of Italian opera, and opera-going is
picked out as one of the chief characteristics of irreligious persons. In
1739 John Wesley first began to preach in the open air; in 1742 Edward
Young's _Night Thoughts_ achieved its extraordinary popularity. These three
events were all significant of the religious movement that was taking place
among the more cultured classes in England, and this movement undoubtedly
affected Handel's oratorio concerts. The ultra-religious were shocked
at the association of sacred subjects with the theatre; those who could
combine religion with culture, like Mrs. Delany, who was now approaching
the age of piety, were Handel's most earnest supporters. It is quite
probable that the section of society which preferred its culture unmixed
with religion resented the attitude of the second party even more than that
of the first, because the second party belonged to their own social class,
and this resentment may well have contributed to the ever-increasing
hostility shown by many social leaders toward Handel. And Handel's personal
oddities were becoming rapidly more acute, partly owing to increasing age,
and still more owing to recurrences of paralysis and associated mental
derangement. He had another attack in this very year--1743.
_Messiah_ and _Samson_ were composed at a more favourable moment, and show
little use of borrowed material, except that _Messiah_ incorporates some
of Handel's own chamber duets, the melodies of which were more suitably
illustrative of their original Italian words than of the sentences from
Scripture to which he adapted them. But his next important work, the _Te
Deum_ in celebration of the victory at Dettingen (June 27), begun in July
and performed on November 27, incorporates no less than nine movements from
the Latin _Te Deum_ by Urio already drawn upon for _Israel in Egypt_. Mrs.
Delany "was all raptures," and thought it "excessively fine."
It is curious that, whereas the Dettingen _Te Deum_ was largely based on
borrowed material, Semele, composed in the previous month of June, should
be, as far as is at present known, entirely original. The libretto had been
written by Congreve in 1707 for an opera, and it was only natural that
its theatrical sense and its literary grace and distinction should have
inspired Handel to one of his loveliest works. Handel was never quite at
home in the English language, but in his later years he seems to have
developed a feeling for English poetry, more especially for that of
approximately his own time. But _Semele_ did not attract the opera
audience; it became increasingly clear that the opera party would have
nothing to do with Handel, and were in fact deliberately doing all they
could to bring him to ruin. Mrs. Delany and a few other great ladies
remained faithful, but they were in a small minority. It was evidently the
younger generation who were in opposition; Mrs. Delany alludes to them as
"the Goths--the fine ladies, the _petits maitres_ and the ignoramuses," and
seemed surprised that they allowed the oratorio to be performed without
making a disturbance. Mrs. Delany was settling down to being the wife of a
_Joseph_ (March 2, 1744) fared no better, and Handel himself "was mightily
out of humour about it" at the rehearsals. The summer was devoted to the
composition of _Belshazzar_, for which Jennens had supplied the libretto.
The collaboration was not altogether happy, for although Jennens had
considerable sense of the picturesque, and offered Handel opportunities for
what may be called spectacular music on the grand scale, his literary style
was pompous, rhetorical, and long-winded. Handel protested perpetually
against the length of the work, for the Handelian style of composition
naturally extended the prolixity of the words; Jennens greatly resented the
musician's criticism, and insisted on printing the poem in full.
When the winter came, Handel produced nothing of importance until January
5, when he brought out _Hercules_, a secular oratorio which he had composed
in the summer during intervals when _Belshazzar_ had to be laid aside owing
to Jennens' delays. _Belshazzar_ was given on March 27. _Semele, Joseph_,
and _Saul_ were revived, but, whatever oratorio was given, the theatre was
almost empty, and the season came to a premature end on April 23. Handel
was again suffering from some form of illness, and was unable to take any
part in the performances, although he was present at them. Lady Shaftesbury
describes "the great, though unhappy, Handel, dejected, wan and dark,
sitting by, not playing on, the harpsichord," and adds that "his light had
been spent in being overplied in music's cause." Hawkins states definitely
that Handel became blind in 1751, and this date has been generally
accepted; Lady Shaftesbury's letter suggests that he was already blind,
or partially so, as early as March 1745, unless the word "light" is to be
taken as meaning the light of his reason. This interpretation, in fact, is
confirmed by a later letter of Lord Shaftesbury in October, in which he
says: "Poor Handel looks something better. I hope he will entirely recover
in due time, though he has been a good deal disordered in the head."
Another friend of Handel's, William Harris, met him in London, in August,
when he seems at first not to have recognised Harris and to have behaved
with some oddity; "he talked much of his precarious state of health, yet he
looks well enough."
It has generally been stated that in 1745 Handel again became bankrupt, but
Barclay Squire pointed out that his name does not occur in the official
lists of bankrupts. It must be remembered that, however disastrous his
opera or oratorio seasons were, he had always his permanent pension of L600
a year to fall back on, and Hawkins states that this pension, originally
granted by Queen Anne and George I, was punctually paid throughout his
From the end of August, London was in a panic over the Jacobite rebellion
under the Young Pretender, Charles Edward. The Opera remained closed on
account of the prejudice against the Papist Italian singers; at the other
theatres patriotism expressed itself in appropriate music. Purcell's
"Genius of England" was sung at one, Arne's recently composed "Rule,
Britannia" at another, and on November 14 a "Chorus Song, set by Mr. Handel
for the _Gentlemen Volunteers_ of the City of London," was sung by Mr. Lowe
at Drury Lane. The words suggest that the anonymous author was familiar
with the Epilogue to Purcell's _King Arthur_; Handel's music is neither in
his own style nor in Purcell's, but resembles the poorest sort of English
patriotic song of the early eighteenth century. Patriotic poetry was well
illustrated by an additional verse for "God Save the King" which was
printed in this same month:
_From France and Pretender
Great Britain defend her,
Foes let them fall;
From foreign slavery,
Priests and their knavery,
And Popish Reverie,
God save us all._
On December 6 the Pretender began his retreat from Derby, and panic was
allayed. Handel seized the opportunity to compose and bring out his
_Occasional Oratorio_, about half of which was taken from _Israel in
Egypt_; it contains a well-known quotation of "Rule, Britannia," and the
point of the quotation is made clearer when we know that it was one of the
patriotic songs sung at the theatres during the period of panic.
The Duke of Cumberland's defeat of the Pretender at Culloden on April
16, 1746, finally disposed of the Jacobites, and Handel made a further
contribution to the national rejoicings in "A Song on the Victory over the
Rebels," which was printed in the _London Magazine_ for July. The words
were by John Lockman; the first and last verses are as follows:
_From scourging rebellion and baffling proud France,
Crown'd with laurels behold British William advance:
His triumph to grace and distinguish the day,
The sun brighter shines and all nature's gay.
Ye warriors on whom we due honours bestow,
O think on the source whence our late evils flow;
Commanded by William, strike next at the Gaul,
And fix those in chains would Britain enthral._
In the same month Handel began the composition of a new oratorio in honour
of the Duke; this was _Judas Maccabaeus_, for which he had discovered a
new librettist, the Rev. Thomas Morell, formerly Fellow of King's College,
Cambridge. Morell has given a lively account of his collaboration with the
great man, whom he did not fear to criticise. Handel's retorts to him have
been reproduced as if they were outbursts of righteous indignation against
a snarling poetaster, but, in view of many other records of Handel's
rough tongue and genial humour (in which he seems often to have resembled
Brahms), we need not take them too seriously. It is quite clear that
Morell was more amused than offended, and the fact that they continued to
collaborate up to the end of Handel's career as a composer shows that they
must have remained on completely friendly terms.
Morell, to judge from the contemporary portrait of him, must have been a
rather comic little figure with a strong sense of humour. He was a scholar,
and something of a musician too. The academic primness of his verses has
endeared him to all lovers of Handel, and to no one more than Samuel
Butler; they are always admirably suited to their purpose, neat and
scholarly, concise and direct, with never a word too many. They run easily
for a singer, and it is not improbable that Morell was acquainted with the
works of that great model of all opera-poets, Metastasio, for his words,
like Metastasio's, acquire an unexpected beauty when they are sung.
Handel must have felt himself fully restored to health in the summer
of 1746, for _Judas_, which was written in five weeks, contains no
"borrowings," apart from a few numbers added some ten years later and
adapted from some of his early Italian opera songs. It was not performed
until April 1, 1747.
Judas Maccabaeus--Gluck--Thomas Morell--incipient blindness--Telemann and
his garden--last oratorios--death--character and personality.
The new oratorio met with surprising success. In the first place, Handel
had given up the subscription system, and opened the theatre to all comers.
The relief produced by the victory of Culloden had no doubt encouraged
the general public to spend more money on entertainments; the Duke of
Cumberland was a popular hero, and, through the _Occasional Oratorio_,
Handel's name had come to be associated with him. _Judas_ was naturally
patronised by the court and by the Duke himself, who had made a handsome
present to Morell in recognition of his literary laurels. And a new class
of enthusiasts appeared in the shape of the Jews, we are told, who were
attracted by the glorification of a national hero of their own. We do not
hear much of the Jewish community in London in the days of Handel, and
it cannot have been a very large one, but they appear to have been worth
Handel's consideration. It may be mentioned that Handel's early librettist
in London, Nicolo Haym, must have been a Jew, to judge from his name.
Handel, at any rate, was sufficiently impressed to ask Morell to find
another Jewish subject for his next oratorio; this was _Alexander Balus_,
produced the following year.
The Italian opera party had this year engaged Gluck as a composer, and he
too celebrated the Duke of Cumberland's achievements with an opera, _La
Caduta dei Giganti_ (January 5), which was a complete failure. It must
have been put together in a hurry, for all of the "favourite songs" in it,
published by Walsh (and no other record of the music remains), were taken
from earlier operas of Gluck's; in any case they are poor stuff, and from
Burney's description of the singers it is no wonder that the opera had no
success. Gluck called on Handel, who told someone that he knew no more of
counterpoint than his cook. Gluck was just under thirty, Handel just over
sixty, and one can understand Handel's attitude; in any case he gave him
some plain and practical advice as to how to please an English audience,
which was not much use to Gluck, as he never visited this country again.
Handel was quite right in his criticism, for Gluck was always very clumsy
in his technique; and, at any rate, Gluck found him friendly enough and
spoke of him forty years later with the profoundest respect. It is probable
that Gluck heard _Judas_, as he was still in London in April.
A significant indication of the new popularity which Handel had acquired
was the production of a _pasticcio_, at the Italian Opera in November 1747,
made up chiefly from the operas of Handel; but the experiment was not
repeated. In the autumn of 1748 a company of Italian comic-opera singers
came over to London; they brought an entirely new type of entertainment,
and after their success Handelian opera was buried for ever.
_Alexander Balus_ was not one of Handel's popular works; _Joshua_ (March
23, 1748) is now pretty well forgotten, but was a great attraction when
new, mainly because it contained "See the Conquering Hero," which was
afterwards transferred to _Judas Maccabaeus_. "What the English like is
something that they can beat time to," said Handel to Gluck. He agreed with
Hawkins in not caring very much for it himself, but added, "you will live
to see it a greater favourite with the people than my other fine things."
_Joshua_ contains two "borrowings," one from Handel's own opera _Riccardo_,
and another from Gottlieb Muffat.
The productions of the next year (1749) were _Susanna_ (February 10) and
_Solomon_ (March 17); it is not known who wrote their libretti, though
_Solomon_ has been tentatively ascribed to Morell. _Susanna_ was remarkably
successful, perhaps on account of its story, which has always been a
favourite with the painters of the later Renaissance. One can understand
Lady Shaftesbury's saying, "I believe it will not insinuate itself so much
into my approbation as most of Handel's performances do, as it is in
the light operatic style." _Solomon_ was a complete contrast, with its
magnificent scenes of oriental pageantry.
The Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle (October 1748) had no doubt contributed, as
the victory of Culloden did, to make people more inclined to enjoy the
pleasures of life, with beneficial results to the organisers of music and
drama. The King ordered a grand celebration of the event to take place
on April 27, 1749, and preparations for it were begun as early as the
preceding November. The famous theatrical architect Servandoni was
commissioned to design an elaborate entertainment of fireworks on a
colossal scale to be let off in the Green Park, accompanied by the music of
Handel. The Fireworks Music was scored for fifty-six wind instruments. A
rehearsal of it (without fireworks) was held at Vauxhall Gardens a week
before, at half a crown admission, and it is said to have been attended by
a crowd of twelve thousand persons. At the actual performance the fireworks
were a disastrous failure, owing to various accidents, but Handel's music,
accompanied by the firing of ordnance, was the real event of the evening. A
month later Handel repeated the music at the Foundling Hospital, along with
selections from Solomon, and a new work, composed for the occasion, known
as the Foundling Anthem. His next act of generosity was to present the
hospital with an organ, which he inaugurated on May 1, 1750, with a
performance of Messiah. Henceforth the performance of Messiah at the
Foundling Hospital for the benefit of the institution became an annual
event, and it was this charitable association which really secured the work
its subsequent popularity.
Handel's next oratorio, Theodora (March 16, 1750), came out at a bad
moment, for a series of earthquakes were being felt in London, with the
result that many people took refuge in the country, and those who stayed
behind were reluctant to go to the theatre. The blame for the neglect which
has always overtaken Theodora has been very unjustly laid on Morell. Handel
himself, remembering the successes of Judas and Susanna, observed to the
poet, "The Jews will not come to it, because it is a Christian story; and
the ladies will not come, because it is a virtuous one." Theodora was
always Handel's favourite among his oratorios, and he considered the
chorus, "He saw the Lovely Youth," to be far beyond anything in Messiah.
None the less, the theatre was half empty when Theodora was given. "Never
mind," said Handel, with grim humour, "the music will sound all the
An old acquaintance reappeared this year in London in the shape of Cuzzoni,
who had continued her quarrelsome career at Venice, Vienna, and Stuttgart.
An unsuccessful benefit concert was given for her, at which Giardini the
violinist made his first appearance in London. Handel engaged her to sing
in Messiah at the Foundling Hospital, but her voice was gone. She was
arrested for debt and bailed out by the Prince of Wales; after a few years
in Holland, where she was again in prison, she died in destitution at
In the summer Handel went to Germany for the last time. Nothing is known of
his movements there beyond the fact that on the journey out he met with a
carriage accident between the Hague and Haarlem. He was seriously injured,
but was stated in a London paper of August 21 to be out of danger. Nor is
it known when he returned; we have no further news of him until in January
he began work on Jephtha. Morell says that he himself wrote Jephtha in
1751, but, as Handel had completed the first act on February 2, it is
probable that Morell, like Jennens, supplied him with the words in
The composition of the music suffered various interruptions owing to the
failure of Handel's eyesight, and possibly to a return of mental disorder
(Streatfeild). He was able to play the organ at the Foundling Hospital
in May, and directly afterwards went for a short visit to Cheltenham,
returning to London on June 13. He resumed work on Jephtha, and finished it
on August 30. It was some time this year (the precise date is unknown) that
he consulted Samuel Sharp, a surgeon of Guy's Hospital, who told him that
he was suffering from gutta serena, and that freedom from pain in the
visual organs was all that he had to hope for during the remainder of his
days. It was a severe shock, especially to a man whose general physical and
mental health was already undermined, and it is no wonder that Handel began
to give way to periods of profound depression. The condition of Handel's
eyes, and of his hand as well, may be clearly observed in the autograph of
Jephtha, and it may be noted that here he again reverted to the process of
"borrowing"--this time from five Masses by Habermann, a composer twenty
years his junior, published in 1747.
It may well be asked how Handel acquired the original copies of all the
works which he utilised in his later years, since it is obvious that they
could not have been well known or easily available to musicians in England.
A guess may be hazarded that he obtained them through his old friend
Telemann at Hamburg. Telemann, it will be remembered, had been a close
friend of Handel's during their student days at Halle; whether they met
again in Germany after Handel had taken up his residence in London is
not known, but it is quite probable. The fact remains that Handel was
undoubtedly in friendly correspondence with Telemann in 1750, for in
December of that year he wrote a long letter to him (in French) thanking
him for a theoretical work. Telemann appears to have been a keen gardener,
and had evidently asked Handel to send him some rare plants. Handel's reply
suggests that he was not much interested in gardening himself, but was most
anxious to do all he could to give Telemann pleasure.
Another letter (again in French) to Telemann, dated September 20, 1754,
explains that Handel had set about procuring the plants when Captain
Carsten of Hamburg, by whose ship he intended to send them, told him that
Telemann was dead; but, after another voyage to Hamburg and back, Carsten
brought the news that Telemann was alive and in good health. He also
brought a list of the rare plants desired, and Handel writes to say that he
has obtained almost all of them, and will send them by Captain Carsten when
he sails for Hamburg again in December.
It is true that there is no mention of any parcel of music in these
letters, beyond Telemann's "System of Intervals," but they suggest that
they were part of a longer correspondence. Telemann was keenly interested
in contemporary music, as his correspondence with Graun shows; he also
seems to have asked Graun to send him plants from Berlin. He is the most
likely person to have sent musical works of interest to Handel; possibly
they were sent on loan, and returned after Handel had made the extracts
which are to be seen in the Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge.
Jephtha was produced on February 26, 1752. Handel's oratorios had by now
become a lucrative undertaking, and it was characteristic of English
audiences that they came in crowds to see Handel playing the organ in his
blindness, and enjoy the luxury of tears when Beard sang "Total Eclipse!"
Sharp, the oculist, recommended Handel to employ as his assistant John
Stanley, who had been blind from early childhood and was a singularly
accomplished organist. Handel burst out laughing. "Mr. Sharp, have you
never read' the Scriptures? Do you not remember? If the blind lead the
blind, they both fall into the ditch."
He underwent various operations, but derived only partial benefit from
them. During these last years he led a very retired life, but he continued
to play the organ at his oratorios, at first from memory, and later
extemporising the solos in his concertos, which were always an integral
feature of his concerts. The profits of these were enormous, and when he
died in 1759 he left investments to the extent of 20,000. Composition
naturally became a more difficult matter after blindness set in, but new
songs were added to many of the oratorios, and in 1758 he made a complete
revision of his old Italian cantata, Il Trionfo del Tempo. Morell
translated it into English, and seventeen new numbers were added. Some of
these were new, but many were adapted from other works of Handel's, chiefly
from Parnasso in Festa, and there are also borrowings from Lotti and Graun.
Two choruses by Graun had already been utilised in the revision of the
Italian version which Handel brought out in 1737.
All this time John Christopher Schmidt, now known as Smith, had been his
indispensable factotum. Smith made fair copies of his music, and managed
his affairs for him, though Handel, almost up to the end, seems to have
discussed his investments in person with his financial adviser, Mr. Gael
Morris, in the City. Smith's son, who had come with his father to London as
a child, had been educated under Handel's direction, and in 1754 became the
first organist of the Foundling Hospital. In Handel's later years it was
the son who assisted him at the performances of the oratorios and acted as
his musical amanuensis. There is a curious story of a quarrel which took
place at Tunbridge Wells, about four years before Handel's death, between
the two old men. The cause of it is not known, but it is stated to have
been quite trivial; old Smith left Handel abruptly, and Handel vowed he
would never see him again. The son attempted to heal the breach and even
went so far as to say that he would refuse to assist Handel at his concerts
any more unless Handel restored to his father the legacy which after the
quarrel he had intended to leave to the son; young Smith foresaw that he
himself would be accused of having deliberately alienated the affections of
Handel from his father in order to secure the money for himself.
Handel apparently yielded to some extent, but it is clear that he was not
reconciled to old Smith for a long time. "About three weeks before his
death," we are told, in Coxe's Anecdotes of Handel and Smith, published
soon after young Smith's death, "Handel desired Smith junior to receive the
sacrament with him. Smith asked him how he could communicate, when he was
not at peace with the world and especially when he was at enmity with
his former friend, who, though he might have offended him once, had been
faithful and affectionate to him for thirty years." Handel was much
affected by Smith's words, and the reconciliation took place. Religion had
gained a strong hold upon Handel in his years of suffering; he spoke much
to Hawkins and others of his delight in setting the Scriptures to music,
and he was a regular worshipper at St. George's, Hanover Square.
His last appearance in public was at the performance of Messiah on April 6,
1759, but at the end of it he was seized with a fainting attack, took to
his bed, and died during the night between the 13th and 14th of April. He
was buried in Westminster Abbey on the evening of the 10th; the choirs
of the Chapel Royal and St. Paul's joined the Abbey choir in singing the
burial music of Dr. Croft, and it is said that three thousand people were
Handel's will, executed June 1, 1750, left the bulk of his fortune to his
niece and goddaughter Johanna Friderica Floerken (nee Michaelsen) of Gotha;
other relatives were also left legacies. To Christopher Smith (junior) he
left 500, besides his large harpsichord, his chamber organ, his portrait
by Denner, and his manuscripts. He had at one time thought of leaving the
manuscripts to the University of Oxford, and, having already promised them
to Smith, offered him a legacy of L3,000 if he would resign all claim to
them. Smith refused, and also refused an offer of L2,000 made for them,
after Handel's death, by Frederick the Great. He kept them until 1772, when
he presented them to George III in return for a pension of L200 a year. But
he did not hand over the whole of the manuscripts to the King, and a
large collection of rough sketches and fragments was acquired by Lord
Fitzwilliam, who bequeathed them to the University of Cambridge.
The foregoing pages will have shown how singularly few are the definite
facts about Handel's life which can be ascertained with any degree of
certainty. There are a number of portraits which give some idea of his
outward appearance, but most of them represent him as a man of middle age,
and the anecdotes of his life and habits recorded by various contemporaries
belong mostly to the same period. It is almost impossible to form any idea
of his private character and his inward personality. Biographers of
musicians often attempt to deduce their characters from their musical
works, but it need hardly be said that such a procedure is thoroughly
Portraits are notoriously unsafe as guides to the interpretation of
character, but if the miniature reproduced by Mr. Flower as having been
painted in Rome is an authentic likeness of Handel as a young man and it
certainly bears some resemblance to the portrait by Denner painted about
1736 or 1737--he must have been singularly attractive in those days. It
cannot have been his musical abilities alone that won him the immediate
friendship of Telemann at Halle and Mattheson at Hamburg; and, although he
seems from his earliest days to have been ambitious and determined to make
a career for himself, his contemporaries give the impression that he was
retiring rather than self-assertive. In later life he was often described
as bearish and rough-mannered, but this cannot have been the case in his
youth, or he would never have achieved the position which he held in the
most cultured and distinguished society of Rome and Naples. His visit to
Italy must inevitably have been a wonderful education in the humanities,
otherwise he could never have been received as he was on his first visit
to London by the society which most nearly resembled that of his Italian
friends and patrons.
Professional musicians, and especially those connected with the theatre,
were regarded in England as being more or less disreputable, unless they
held university degrees and posts of distinction. Handel moved among them
in his professional life, as was only natural, but his more intimate
friendships seem, throughout his career, to have been confined mainly
to the innermost circle of the well-bred amateurs; we must not forget,
however, that it was only persons of that class whose letters and memoirs
have come down to us. Burney and Hawkins at any rate were well acquainted
with the professional world, and their testimony tends to confirm that
Handel stood more or less aloof from it. It was only in later life that he
associated on terms of friendship with such a person as Mrs. Cibber, the
singer. In an age when all opera-houses were, with some truth, regarded as
centres of sexual promiscuity, it is indeed remarkable that not the least
evidence exists, with one solitary exception, that Handel was ever even
alleged to have had an illicit love-affair. Mr. Flower discovered a copy of
Mainwaring's biography, with marginal notes said to be in the handwriting
of George III, and there we read: "G. F. Handel was ever honest, nay
excessively polite, but like all Men of Sense would talk all, and hear
none, and scorned the advice of any but the Woman he loved, but his
Amours were rather of short duration, always within the pale of his own
profession." The _Anecdotes of Handel and Smith_ mention two occasions on
which he was said to have become engaged to be married, or nearly so, but
the writer is so reticent that little faith can be placed in his statement,
and in any case the _Anecdotes_, published in 1799, are not very reliable
as far as Handel is concerned.
It is not difficult to understand that there were two Handels, one
"excessively polite" (which, in the language of the eighteenth century,
does not mean that he was servile and cringing, but simply that he behaved
like a man of good breeding), as he appeared to such people as Mrs. Delany
and the Harris family, and the other as he showed himself at rehearsals,
or in the society of men friends of more or less his own standing--bluntly
outspoken and perhaps at times inconsiderate. The hostility of a large
number of social leaders may well have been aroused in the first instance
by some careless harsh word.
"The figure of Handel was large," says Burney, "and he was somewhat
corpulent and unwieldy in his motions; but his countenance, which I
remember as perfectly as that of any man I saw but yesterday, was full of
fire and dignity; and such as impressed ideas of superiority and genius. He
was impetuous, rough, and peremptory in his manners and conversation, but
totally devoid of ill-nature or malevolence; indeed there was an original
humour and pleasantry in his most lively sallies of anger or impatience,
which, with his broken English, were extremely risible. His natural
propensity to wit and humour, and happy manner of relating common
occurrences in an uncommon way, enabled him to throw persons and things
into very ridiculous attitudes. Handel's general look was somewhat heavy
and sour, but when he did smile, it was his sire the sun, bursting out of
a black cloud. There was a sudden flash of intelligence, wit, and good
humour, beaming in his countenance, which I hardly ever saw in any other."
Both Burney and Hawkins record that outside his profession he was said to
be ignorant and dull, and the fact that they are at pains to defend him on
this charge shows that there was apparent ground for it. Pepusch said of
him that he was "a good practical musician," which is what one might well
expect of Pepusch, whose devotion to antiquarian learning aroused the
amusement rather than the admiration of his contemporaries. Handel was at
any rate keenly interested in painting, like Corelli, and the third codicil
to his will, dated August 4, 1757, mentions two landscapes by Rembrandt,
one a view of the Rhine, which he bequeathed to one of the Granvilles from
whom he had received both as a gift.
Another characteristic of Handel's for which his early biographers are
hard put to find an excuse was his enormous appetite for food and drink,
satirised by his once intimate friend the painter Goupy in a well-known
print called "The Charming Brute," in which Handel is represented with the
head of a pig, seated at an organ, with various comestibles disposed at his
feet. In this connexion it may be noted that for all his gluttony Handel
was never accused of drunkenness; if he exceeded in the pleasures of the
table, it was as a gourmet and a connoisseur. Yet it is recorded that he
never led an extravagant life, and apart from this particular weakness
he lived as simply in the days of his wealth as in those of his poverty.
Generosity to those in distress was at all times characteristic of him.
Although Handel became a naturalised British subject, none of his
contemporaries would ever have dreamed of regarding him as an Englishman,
or as a composer of English music. Burney's account of the commemoration
festival of 1784 may be regarded as an official panegyric, but even in
that he goes no further than to say that Handel, "though not a native
of England, spent the greatest part of his life in the service of its
inhabitants, improving our taste, and introducing among us so many species
of musical excellence, that, during more than half a century, while
sentiment, not fashion, guided our applause, we neither wanted nor wished
for any other standard. Indeed, his works were so long the models of
perfection in this country, that they may be said to have formed our
national taste." In the pages which deal with the character of Handel as a
composer, he says that he united "the depth and elaborate contrivance of
his own country with Italian elegance and facility." Handel's music, he
holds, was from the first congenial to the English temperament, but he
never regards it as being at all English in style, though in other writings
he naturally recognises the occasional indebtedness of Handel to the
influence of Purcell. It was only in the nineteenth century that Handel
came to be regarded as a national institution. His own country for the most
part neglected his works; his operas were thought impossible to revive, and
the oratorios were considered by most Germans as being "too English"--an
opinion which the writer of this book frequently heard expressed in Germany
some fifty years ago. Since 1920 there has been an astonishing revival
of Handel in Germany, beginning with the restoration to the stage of his
operas--the last works of his which most people would have thought suitable
for presentation to modern audiences--and much energy has been expended
by German critics on an attempt to demonstrate the essentially Germanic
character both of Handel's music and of his personality.
The more closely we study Handel in relation to his own times, and in
relation to the general history of music, the clearer it becomes that Goupy
the caricaturist was only right when he put into Handel's mouth the words,
"I am myself alone."
The foundation of Handel's musical style was Italian, and it was only
natural that this should be the case, for, in his days, Italy dominated
European music as she did European architecture. All music in the grand
manner, except in France, was Italian in its tradition, and if ever there
was a composer who illustrated the grand manner throughout his life, it was
Handel. France had produced a grand manner of her own, though not without
an initial impulse from Italy; in all other countries north of the Alps
native music was only for the humbler classes of society. When Handel
condescended to it, as he did in the political excitement of 1745, he
deliberately adopted the musical style of a tavern song.
Handel's serious music was never written for popular audiences; in his
later oratorios he sometimes admittedly wrote down to the taste of the
middle classes, but we have the records of his conversations with Gluck,
Hawkins, and others to prove how little respect he had for that taste. He
composed for the needs of the moment, and not with a view to immortality,
but he composed for a society which was cultured enough to desire, even in
its entertainments, grace, dignity, and serenity.
If Handel's works have for later generations become a source of joy and
delight to a very different social class, it is because they are the
musical equivalents of those palaces and gardens of Handel's day which
are now national monuments and open to all comers. We walk beneath their
colonnades, peopling them in imagination with the gracious and stately
figures of the past; and from the museum of memory there arise the unheard
strains of Handel's music:
_Hark! the heavenly sphere turns round,
And silence now is drown'd,
In ecstasy of sound!
How on a sudden the still air is charm'd,
As if all harmony were just alarm'd
And every soul with transport fill'd!_
Mainwaring, J.: _Memoirs of the Life of the Late G. F. Handel_. London.
Burney, Charles: _A General History of Music_. London. 1776-89.
Burney, Charles: _An Account of the Musical Performances in Westminster
Abbey, etc._ London. 1785.
Hawkins, Sir John: _A General History of the Science and Practice of
Music_. London. 1776.
Coxe, W.: _Anecdotes of G. F. Handel and Y. C. Smith_. London. 1799.
Schoelcher, Victor: _The Life of Handel_. London. 1857. The first attempt
at a complete and documented biography.
Chrysander, Friedrich: _G. F. Haendel_. Leipzig. 1858-67. This biography
does not go beyond 1740, but it is the most valuable source for carefully
Delany, Mary: _Autobiography and Correspondence of Mary Granville, Mrs.
Delany_. Edited by Lady Llanover. London. 1861-62.
Taylor, Sedley: _The Indebtedness of Handel to Works by Other Composers_.
Robinson, Percy: _Handel and His Orbit_. London. 1908.
Streatfeild, R.A.: _Handel_. London. 1909. The best biography of Handel and
critical study of his works in English.
Squire, W. Barclay: _Handel in 1745_ (Riemann-Festschrift). Leipzig. 1909.
Rolland, Romain: _Haendel_. Paris. 1910.
Flower, Newman: _George Friederic Handel: His Personality and His Times_.
This book contains much new biographical matter. I have to thank Mr. Flower
for kind permission to make use of his valuable discoveries.
Leichtentritt, Hugo: _Haendel._ Stuttgart. 1924. Biography based mainly on
Streatfeild; gives a detailed analysis of all Handel's works.
Young, Percy M.: _Handel._ London. 1947.
_Almira_ (Hamburg, 1705).
_Nero_ (Hamburg, 1705, music lost).
_Florindo_ (Hamburg, 1707, music lost).
_Dafne_ (Hamburg, 1707, music lost).
_Rodrigo_ (Florence, 1707?).
_Agrippina_ (Venice, 1709).
The following operas were all produced in London:
_Il Pastor Fido_ (first version, 1712).
_Muzio Scevola_ (1721, only Act III by Handel).
_Giulio Cesare_ (1724).
_Riccardo I_ (1727).
_Parnasso in Festa_ (1734).
_Il Pastor Fido_ (second version, 1734).
_Jupiter in Argos_ (1739, announced but never performed).
_St. John Passion_ (German, Hamburg, 1704).
_La Risurrezione_ (Italian, Rome, 1708).
_Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno_ (Italian, Rome, 1708).
_Aci, Galatea e Polifemo_ (Italian, Naples, 1709).
_Brockes Passion_ (German, Hanover, 1716).
All the following oratorios are in English:
_Esther_ (first version, London, 1720).
_Acis and Galatea_ (London, 1720).
_Esther_ (second version, London, 1732).
_Debora_ (London, 1733).
_Athalia_ (Oxford, 1733).
_Alexander's Feast_ (London, 1736).
_Saul_ (London, 1739).
_Israel in Egypt_ (London, 1739).
_Ode for St. Cecilia's Day_ (London, 1739).
_L'Allegro, Il Penseroso ed Il Moderato_ (London, 1740).
_Messiah_ (Dublin, 1742).
The following oratorios were all produced in London:
_Occasional Oratorio_ (1746).
_Judas Maccabaeus_ (1747).
_Alexander Balus_ (1747).
_The Choice of Hercules_ (1749).
_The Triumph of Time and Truth_ (1757).
_Laudate Pueri_ (Rome, 1707).
_Dixit Dominus_ (Rome, 1707).
_Nisi Dominus_ (Rome, 1707).
_Gloria Patri_ (Rome, 1707).
_Salve Regina_ (1707?).
_Silete Venti_ (1707?).
_Utrecht Te Deum and Jubilate_ (London, 1713).
_Te Deum_ in D (1714?).
_Te Deum_ in B flat (Chandos) (1718-20).
_Te Deum_ in A (1727?).
_Twelve Chandos Anthems_ (1716-19).
_Four Coronation Anthems_ (1727).
_Wedding Anthem for Princess Anne_ (1734).
_Wedding Anthem for the Prince of Wales_ (1736).
_Funeral Anthem for Queen Caroline_ (1737).
_Dettingen Te Deum_ (1743).
_Dettingen Anthem_ (1743).
_Foundling Hospital Anthem_ (1749).
SECULAR VOCAL MUSIC:
_Birthday Ode for Queen Anne_ (1713).
_Italian Cantatas, Duets and Trios_.
_Six Concertos_ (so-called "Oboe Concertos"), published 1734.
_Three Concertos_ ("Select Harmony"), published 1741.
_Twelve Grand Concertos_, op. 6 (published 1740).
_Three Concertos a due cori_.
_Overtures, Marches, Dances, etc_.
_Concerto for Oboe and Orchestra_.
_Concerto for Violin and Orchestra_.
_Water Music_ (1715-17).
_Forest Music_ (1742, probably spurious).
_Music for the Royal Fireworks_ (1749).
_Six Concertos for Harpsichord or Organ_, op. 4 (1738).
_Six Concertos for Harpsichord or Organ_ (1740).
_Six Concertos for Harpsichord or Organ_, op. 7 (1760).
Many of these are arrangements of other works.
_Sonatas for Flute, Oboe or Violin and Bass_ (19).
_Six Sonatas for two Oboes and Bass_.
_Six Sonatas for two Violins (Oboes or Flutes) and Bass_, op. 2 (1733).
_Seven Sonatas for two Violins (Flutes) and Bass_, op. 5 (1739).
_Sonata for Viola de Gamba_.
_Suites de Pieces pour le Clavecin_ (8) (1720).
_Suites de Pieces pour le Clavecin_ (8) (1733).
_Miscellaneous Harpsichord Music_.
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