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This is the first post in a new series designed to easily introduce your kids to the greatest of the great classical music composers. I am calling it the 10/5 Composer Study: I will give you a list of 10 facts about the composer and 5 great pieces for listening. You can spread the music out over several days, or cover everything in a single lesson. (I always recommend adding Musical Sketching to help you kids best engage with the music.)
George Frederic Handel is one of the most recognizable names in the world of classical music. Introducing your kids to Mr. Handel will provide a gateway into a ton of famous music – he is definitely one of the all-time greats!
Handel in 10 Facts:
- Born in Germany in 1685; began his composition career working for the Elector of Hanover.
- Moved to England in 1710 to expand his career; a strange line of succession caused the Elector of Hanover to become King George of England…thus remaining Handel’s boss.
- Composed Water Music in 1717 for a barge party planned by King George (some say the music was Handel’s effort to return to the King’s good graces after having abandoned his post in Germany).
- Composed Zadok the Priest as a coronation anthem for King George II.
- Famous for elevating the oratorio (musical narrative presentations, almost always sourced from the Bible, without any costumes, sets, or moving around the stage). Premiered Solomon in 1749, which included the standout The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba.
- Experienced great success, but struggled to keep up with the public’s changing tastes.
- Fell on hard times and became almost penniless.
- Was invited to create music for a new libretto by Charles Jennens called Messiah. After 24 days of non-stop writing, Handel delivered his most inspired work yet.
- Though not an immediate success, the triumph of Messiah returned Handel to the public’s good graces.
- Composed Music for the Royal Fireworks in 1749, at the very end of his very lengthy career.
Handel in 5 Great Pieces:
1 // Hornpipe from Water Music
2 // The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba from Solomon
3 // Zadok the Priest
4 // Hallelujah Chorus from Messiah
5 // Music for the Royal Fireworks
There you have it — 10 facts, 5 pieces…all you need to start teaching your kids to enjoy the music of George Frederic Handel!
Want to learn more? Handel is a featured composer in Series 1 of A Kid’s Guide to Classical Composers.