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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Handel Biography, Part 2

Arrived at the castle the boy soon made friends with the chapel musicians. They took him to the organ loft, where he played for them.

All were delighted with his talent. One day the Duke himself heard him play. He, too, was astonished that one so young should show so much skill. Calling the father into his presence, he pointed out how wrong it was to deny the boy the right to study music. "The world," he said, "should have the good of your son's great ability."

At the Cathedral in Handel's home city, Halle, there was a famous organist named Zachau. He became the boy's teacher. They must have had a busy time together, for he had lessons from Zachau not only in organ playing, but in harmony, counterpoint, canon, and fugue; and in hautbois, violin, and harpsichord playing.

If you will look at this picture of the harpsichord on which Handel played, you will see that it is unlike the grand piano of our day. How does it differ? And yet for this simple instrument Handel wrote beautiful music. Some day you will play his Little Fugues and some of the dances from the Suites.


Handel studied with Zachau for three years. The teacher said one day, "The boy knows more than I do." So he was sent to Berlin, when he was eleven years old, to find other teachers.

Here he met two famous men, Buononcini and Ariosti. The former was harsh and unkind to him, but Ariosti treated him kindly and encouraged him. They all met again in later years in London.

When Handel was twelve years old his father died. From that time on he worked hard to perfect himself in his profession. He became organist at Halle, but soon left there for Hamburg, which at that time was renowned for its music.

Here Handel began to work his way, making many friends, one of whom was the famous Johann Mattheson. One day Handel and Mattheson went by coach to Lubeck, where, at one of the churches, an organist was wanted. Mattheson wished to try for the position, but when he learned he would have to marry the daughter of the old organist he and Handel came back to Hamburg heart free. This is a fine old picture of Handel's friend, Johann Mattheson.


Though Handel went to Hamburg an unknown boy, he soon became famous. Here he wrote sacred music and his first operas.

In his twenty-second year Handel went to Italy, where he stayed for three years. Here he met and became very friendly with Corelli and the two Scarlattis.




We return in 2 days with the third and final part of our Handel biography.

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