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George Frideric Handel (/ˈhændl/; German: Georg Friedrich Händel; German pronunciation: [ˈhɛndl]; (1685-02-23)23 February 1685 – 14 April 1759(1759-04-14)) was a German-born, British Baroque composer famous for his operas, oratorios, anthems and organ concertos. Born in a family indifferent to music, Handel received critical training in Halle, Hamburg and Italy before settling in London (1712), and became a naturalized British subject in 1727. He was strongly influenced both by the great composers of the Italian Baroque and the middle-German polyphonic choral tradition.

Within fifteen years, Handel had started three commercial opera companies to supply the English nobility with Italian opera. Musicologist Winton Dean writes that his operas show that "Handel was not only a great composer; he was a dramatic genius of the first order." As Alexander's Feast (1736) was well received, Handel made a transition to English choral works. After his success with Messiah (1742) he never performed an Italian opera again. It has been said that the passion of Handel's oratorios is an ethical one, and that they are hallowed not by liturgical dignity but by moral ideals of humanity. Almost blind, and having lived in England for nearly fifty years, he died in 1759, a respected and rich man. His funeral was given full state honours, and he was buried in Westminster Abbey.

 

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