by Edward J. Dent
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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. 1760.

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 documented facts.

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. Cambridge. 1906.

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. London. 1923.

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:

Rinaldo (1711). Il Pastor Fido (first version, 1712). Teseo (1712). Silla (1714). Amadigi (1715). Radamisto (1720). Muzio Scevola (1721, only Act III by Handel). Floridante (1721). Ottone (1723). Flavio (1723). Giulio Cesare (1724). Tamerlano (1724). Rodelinda (1725). Scipione (1726). Alessandro (1726). Admeto (1727). Riccardo I (1727). Siroe (1728). Tolomeo (1728). Lotario (1729). Partenope (1730). Poro (1731). Ezio (1732). Sosarme (1732). Orlando (1733). Arianna (1734). Parnasso in Festa (1734). Il Pastor Fido (second version, 1734). Terpsichore (1734). Ariodante (1735). Alcina (1735). Atalanta (1736). Arminio (1737). Giustino (1737). Berenice (1737). Faramondo (1738). Serse (1738). Jupiter in Argos (1739, announced but never performed). Imeneo (1740). Deidamia (1741).


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:

Samson (1743). Semele (1743). Joseph (1743). Belshazzar (1744). Hercules (1744). Occasional Oratorio (1746). Judas Maccabaeus (1747). Alexander Balus (1747). Joshua (1747). Solomon (1748). Susanna (1748). Theodora (1749). The Choice of Hercules (1749). Jephtha (1752). 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).


Birthday Ode for Queen Anne (1713). Italian Cantatas, Duets and Trios. German Songs.


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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