Winton Dean HandelWinton Dean
The New Grove. Händel

Macmillian Publisher Ltd., 1980

 

 

 

 

This monograph on Georg Friedrich Händel written by Winton Dean, although dated and not very comprehensive, is no less worthy of attention for its effective synthesis. Händel was meant to be part of the biographies taken from The New Grove Dictionary of Music series and Musicians (1980) and here you will find everything that is useful to know about the life and work of the German composer, narrated in a schematic and rather dry way, but substantially complete and correct. I think this text may be considered a starting point.

Händel is divided into three sections (four, if you count the Bibliography, intended to be an exhaustive reference, even if, by now, is no longer complete). The first section is dedicated to the author’s life: his childhood in Germany, the trip to Italy that contributed to his musical education and the triumphant career in London. This latter part is excessively burdened with references to music production with little or no information at all about the performances, making it a little dull and difficult to be memorized (although this depends on the type of memory you have). Two more enjoyable chapters devoted to the character and the composition manner of Händel are placed at the end of this section.

The second section deals with musical compositions and devotes some chapters to opera production, keyboard, chamber and orchestral music, sacred music and the oratorios, with a dissertation on Händel’s critical acclaim and artistic production.

The third section is finally reserved to the thematic catalogue of the Händelian compositions, adding references to editions of the same works and other various information.

The popular approach and the intent to be a quick reference are therefore evident, so this book is to be read more as a voice of the encyclopaedia rather than as a true biography.

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