George Frideric Handel, was born on 23 February, 1685 in Halle, Brandenburg. Even though Handel was German-born and educated, the English like to claim Handel as their own (cheeky Brits). He was the star of the late Baroque era producing operas, oratorios and instrumental compositions. The biggie and the most famous of all oratorios is of course The Messiah (1741), but I prefer his occasional pieces Water Music (1717) and Music for the Royal Fireworks (1749).
Handel’s life is full of achievement and fascinating facts. For many years, I couldn’t figure out why people would stand during the Hallelujah Chorus till I found out that during the first London performance of Handel’s Messiah, King George II stood up as soon as the Hallelujah chorus began. Not surprisingly, it became de rigeur after that.
The world nearly didn’t get to experience all of Handel’s genius. History has it that in 1704, Handel had a close shave during a stoush with fellow composer Johann Mattheson. The two had a fierce quarrel (know one knows what over) in which Mattheson almost killed Handel with his sword. Fortunately Matthson’s sword struck a button rather than Handel’s chest .
Some of Handel’s best works were composed later in his life..pretty impressive given he suffered from a stroke in 1737, was involved in a coach crash in 1750 and had cataracts and eventually went blind after a botched eye operation 1751. This guy deserves his own gift wrap.
Visitors to London can visit a permanent monument to Handel’s life and music – when too much music history is never enough. His house has been restored to look exactly how Handel would’ve kept when he lived there from 1723 until his death in 1759. (© The Handel House Trust Ltd).
I wanted to mark Handel’s birthday and played with just using a black and white pattern of a print of the great man himself but let me assure you that just did not work – way too much wig and frankly just a bit creepy. So I went for the sheet music of Water Music instead – Handel’s Water Music is made up of three orchestral suites, written for an outdoor performance for King George I on the Thames. Yes I know I ‘ve used this technique before but I can assure you that people do really love receiving gifts wrapped in their favourite music or music with special meaning for them. I stuck with a manly deep blue satin ribbon though I should have searched a bit harder in my ribbon drawer for a something with a more baroque texture. When I find it, I am wrapping this gift.