George Frideric Handel
Handel wrote Music for the Royal Fireworks

George Frideric Handel

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Handel (though born in Germany) is hailed as one of Britain's greatest composers of ceremonial and other music. He moved to England in his twenties and spent the rest of his life there, becoming famous for his oratorios, operas and organ concertos. One of his works, Zadok the Priest, which was written for King George II's coronation, has been performed at the coronation of every British monarch since. Handel died in 1759 and he was buried in Westminster Abbey with full state honors.

1.
That other great German-speaking anglophile composer, Haydn, lived to a great age and turned out over 100 Symphonies (a musical form of which he was the inventor and pioneer), but Handel ~ at least in his earlier life ~ wrote over 40 examples in a musical tradition he had picked up from Italy. What musical genre was this?
Ballet
Lute songs
Violin concerto
Opera
There are a number of famous pieces among these works, which you might enjoy exploring
2.
During his long life Handel was famous for many kinds of music-making. Which of these was NOT one of his particular fields?
Opera
Oratorio
Organ Concertos
Symphonies
Though Handel did write single pieces with titles similar to 'symphony' (e.g. the Pastoral Symphony in Messiah), the Symphony as we have since known it was created by Haydn, who lived after Handel
3.
Another famous piece by Handel is a splendid set of variations ~ to be played on a keyboard instrument such as a harpsichord ~ based on a tune that he heard a working-man humming or whistling one day. By what title is this piece accordingly known?
The Merry Miller
The Musical Milkman
The Harmonious Blacksmith
The Tuneful Tailor
Do listen to this piece if you can, or at least some of it; it should bring a smile to your face as you picture the man singing as he worked (and a smile on Handel's face too perhaps, as the merry piece took shape in his mind and onto paper)!
4.
Which of the following is NOT a work written by Handel?
The Water Music
Music for the Royal Fireworks
The Messiah
'Jesu, joy of man's desiring'
'Jesu, joy' is by Handel's contemporary, JS Bach
5.
Among Handel's greatest works is the oratorio Messiah, first performed in 1742. Where in the British Isles did it receive its very first performance?
London
Dublin
Bath
Edinburgh
It was first heard in Ireland. There are stories that the work was so popular, audiences in London were told on their tickets that men should leave their swords at home and women not wear their big skirt-hoops, so more people could fit into the space to listen!
6.
Handel's birth-year (1685) happened to be a bit of a 'bumper year' for future musicians in German-speaking Europe. Who else was born that year?
Johann Sebastian Bach
Franz Josef Haydn
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Richard Wagner
Bach and Handel were each born in what is now Germany, in that same year
7.
Where is Handel buried?
Westminster Abbey
St Paul's Cathedral
The Foundling Hospital
Oxford
Many famous people down the centuries have been buried there. One might like to think of him somehow smiling as successive Coronations take place in the Abbey
8.
Handel came to Britain to settle, 300 years ago in the '17-teens', when his then-boss became King of England. What was this king's regnal name and number?
William IV
George I
Stephen III
Henry V
Hence the 'Georgian' style label for the architecture, art, fashions, music, drama etc. of that period
9.
Handel was a Governor of London's Foundling Hospital: he donated the money from many performances of Messiah to help with this institution's funding, and left a fair-copy of the full score of the work in his will. What was the specific purpose of the charity?
To offer convalescence for people who had been in sea or shipping accidents
To look after people who were (as we'd now say) mentally ill
To take in and care for abandoned babies and infants
To care for sick pets
'Foundlings' are 'little people who have been found by someone else' (typically, and sadly, unwanted babies). The Foundling Hospital gave them food, shelter and a better start in life
10.
At the first performance of Messiah before royalty, the King himself stood up in awe and honor of one of the sections of music: which one?
'I know that my Redeemer liveth'
The Hallelujah Chorus
'Worthy is the Lamb'
The Pastoral Symphony
If the music was magnificent enough for King George, it's magnificent enough for everyone else, over 250 years later. It is an accepted tradition that everyone stands for this part of the oratorio (except those who sit to play their instruments)
Author:  Ian Miles

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