1. Life
2. Selected Discography


Georg Friedrich Handel by Balthasar Denner

Georg Friedrich (George Frideric) Handel (Halle, 23 February 1685 – London, 14 April 1759), German, later British, Baroque composer. Born the same year as Johann Sebastian Bach and Domenico Scarlatti, Handel lived and worked chiefly in London, where he enjoyed wide success thanks to his vocal and orchestral music. Famous for his irascibility as well as for his compositions, Handel is described by Burney as «impetuous, rough and peremptory in his manners and conversation», though he had a «natural propensity to wit and humour».

Handel’s style is a synthesis of very different traditions, beginning with the German one, which he learned while living in Halle and Hamburg. He had in-depth knowledge of harmony and counterpoint from his training in Lutheran church music, while he mastered melodic invention during his stay in Italy. His style shows also influence of French music (when he had to compose works that required French models as dances), while English music is limited to echoes of Purcell and few other contemporaries.

Handel moved to London in 1712 and became a naturalised British subject in 1727. It was there that the German composer wrote the most significant part of his music. He was prolific in every musical genre of his time, as operas, oratorios, anthems, and organ concertos. Most significantly, he contributed to define the features of the main European styles of his era.

In the first part of career, the composition of Italian operas was Handel’s main activity. These works are among the best ever composed in this genre. Among the most important operas, there are Rinaldo, Armida, Alcina, Giulio Cesare and Rodelinda.

In his later years, Handel dedicated himself to another genre, the English oratorio, which he personally invented and developed. His best achievement in this field is definitely Messiah (1742). Samson and Judas Maccabaeus are other, no less dazzling samples of his artistry.

Handel was almost blind when he died in 1759, but in his last month he was able to supervise the oratorio season of that year, when a new version of his oratorio Solomon was presented. He died a month later and was buried in Westminster Abbey in London. 3000 persons attended the service.

Although Handel’s works were popular during his lifetime, after his death he was best remembered only for few orchestral works (Water Music, Music for the Royal Fireworks) and for his oratorio Messiah. Only from the early 20th century his other works, especially operas and oratorios, were revived. Currently, musical editions have been published to perform them in a historically informed way.


Handel Messiah Harnoncourt Schafer Larsson Schade FinleyMessiah

Christine Schäfer, Anna Larsson, Michael Schade, Gerald Finley
Arnold Schoenberg Chor
Concentus Musicus Wien
Nikolaus Harnoncourt, conductor
Deutsche Harmonia Mundi, 2005
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The Handel Album

Philippe Jaroussky, countertenor
Erato, 2017
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Handel – Concerti a due cori

Freiburger Barockorchester
Gottfried von der Goltz & Petra Müllejans, concertmaster & violin
Harmonia Mundi, 2018
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Handel Arminio Cencic Claire Donose Yi Sancho Sabata Magoulas PetrouArminio

Max Emanuel Cencic, Layla Claire, Petros Magoulas, Juan Sancho, Xavier Sabata
Armonia Atenea
George Petrou, conductor
Decca, 2016
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Sonya Yoncheva HandelSonya Yoncheva – Handel

Academia Montis Regalis
Alessandro de Marchi, conductor
Sony, 2017
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Birth Of The Symphony Handel to Haydn Academy of Ancient Music EgarrBirth of the Symphony. Händel to Haydn

Academy of Ancient Music
Richard Egarr (conduction & harpsichord)
AAM Records, 2013
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Handel Alcina Joan Sutherland Teresa Berganza Mirella Freni Richard BonyngeAlcina

Joan Sutherland, Teresa Berganza, Monica Sinclair, Luigi Alva, Graziella Sciutti, Mirella Freni, Ezio Flagello
London Symphony Orchestra
Richard Bonynge, conductor
Decca, 1962, 1992
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Franco Fagioli Handel AriasFranco Fagioli – Handel Arias

Il Pomo d’Oro
Zefira Valova, conductor
Deutsche Grammophon, 2018
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Handel Imeneo Fabio Biondi Europa GalanteImeneo

Magnus Staveland, Ann Hallenberg, Monica Piccinini, Fabrizio Beggi, Cristina Arcari
Europa Galante
violin & direction, Fabio Biondi
Glossa, 2016
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Hasnaa Bennani Georg Friedrich Handel Arie per la CuzzoniHasnaa Bennani – Handel. Arie per la Cuzzoni

Les Muffatti
Peter van Heyghen, conductor
Ramée, 2016
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