In Handel, as determined as ever, began yet another operatic endeavor, which ended with his last opera, Deidamia , in During the s, however, the most important directions taken by Handel were, first, the composition of English dramatic oratorios, notably Athalia and Saul , and, second, the surge of instrumental music used in conjunction with the oratorios, including some of Handel's greatest concertos — the solo concertos of Opus 4 , five for organ and one for harp and the 12 concerti grossi of Opus 6 In Messiah , the work for which he is best known was first performed in Dublin.
Handel continued composing oratorios at the rate of about two a year, including such masterworks as Samson and Solomon , until , when his eyesight began to fail.
George Frideric Handel (1685–1759)
Handel died in London on April 14, ; the last musical performance he heard, on April 6, was his own Messiah. Throughout his life Handel avoided the rigorous contrapuntal techniques of his compatriot and exact contemporary Johann Sebastian Bach and achieved his effects through the simplest of means, trusting always his own innate musicianship.
The music of both composers, however, sums up the age in which they lived. After them, opera took a different path; the favorite baroque genres of chamber and orchestral music, trio sonata and concerto grosso, were largely abandoned, and the development of the symphony orchestra and the pianoforte led into realms uncharted by the baroque masters. Thus, their influence cannot be found in specific examples. Rather, Handel's legacy lies in the dramatic power and lyrical beauty inherent in all his music.
His operas move from the rigid use of conventional schemes toward a more flexible and dramatic treatment of recitative, arioso, aria, and chorus. His ability to build large scenes around a single character was further extended in the dramatic scenas of composers such as Wolfgang Mozart and the Italian Gioachino Rossini. Handel's greatest gift to posterity was undoubtedly the creation of the dramatic oratorio genre, partly out of existing operatic traditions and partly by force of his own musical imagination.
Without question, the oratorios of both the Austrian composer Franz Joseph Haydn and the German composer Felix Mendelssohn owe a large debt to those of Handel. He was one of the first composers to have a biography written of him , to have centennial celebrations of his birth , and to have a complete edition of his music published 40 volumes, — Ludwig van Beethoven cherished his set. Although today, as in the 19 th century, Handel is best known for only a few of his works, such as Water Music and Messiah , more and more attempts are being made to bring his other compositions, especially his operas, to the public acquaintance.
Handel's rich and unique musical genius deserves to be remembered in the extraordinary fullness of its entirety. All Rights Reserved.
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