Handel (The master musician series)

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9780028703275: Handel (The master musician series)

Handel is one of the most remarkable figures in the history of western music. His compositions form one of the peaks of creative achievement in the Baroque period, and cover a remarkable range: full-scale Italian operas and English oratorios (including Messiah), but also shorter works such as the Water Music and the Coronation Anthem Zadok the Priest. His compositional processes were often complex, but could result in accessible and memorable 'hit tunes', such as the aria that subsequently became famous as 'Handel's Largo'.

His life and career were as remarkable as his music. Born in Germany to a family that reputedly tried to discourage his initial interest in music, he broke away to seek his fortune in Italian opera, and proceeded to gain first-hand experience of the latest Italian styles in Rome, Florence, Venice and Naples. A series of career moves brought him via Hanover to London, where he eventually settled and dominated the city's musical life for half a century. There he quickly made his mark in English church music as well as Italian opera, and eventually created two new musical genres - English theatre oratorio and the organ concerto.

Handel is important also because, as a musician, he also became a significant public figure. In Rome he attracted the patronage of princes and cardinals; soon after his arrival in London he appeared at the court of Queen Anne, and he subsequently enjoyed substantial support from the 'Hanoverian' royal family. He survived turbulent periods in the musical and political life of London, reached a wider public through publications of his music, died a rich man and was buried in Westminster Abbey.

This biography provides a comprehensive and balanced account of both the man and his music, drawing on the unusually rich legacy of documentary and musical sources from Handel's lifetime. This new edition of a book that has been recognized as a 'classic' biography of Handel, reliable on the factual details of the composer's life and comprehensive in the coverage of his music, incorporates a great deal of new material. The last half century has seen a great renewal of research on the circumstances of Handel's life, and a major expansion in performances and recordings of his music. The book brings together the results of this scholarly activity, and is informed by wide experience of modern performances of Handel's music, including the revival of his operas and experimentation with 'authentic' performance practices.

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Product Description:

George Frideric Handel was a defining figure of the late Baroque era, shaping its music for the theatre in much the same way J.S. Bach dominated the writing of music for use in church. Perhaps best known for bringing the oratorio form to an English-speaking audience with masterworks such as Messiah, Handel also had a distinguished career, as a composer of Italian operas, and furthermore found time to influence the development of orchestral music by writing such works as the Water Music and Music for the Royal Fireworks. Donald Burrows's new biography relates Handel's life and his music, devoting particular attention to two crucial junctures in Handel's development: his transition from a church-trained musician in Germany to a successful opera composer in London, and the gradual transformation of his theatre career from opera to oratorio, some thirty years later. In the oratorio form, as Burrows demonstrates, Handel was able to combine the techniques of large-scale construction and of aria writing that he had developed in his operas with an experience of choral music that went back to his earliest training as a church organist. The result was music that succeeds to this day in capturing the imagination of a vast audience. The last half-century has seen Handel take a major place in modern musical scholarship. This book takes into account not only recent knowledge of historical sources and significant studies of Handel's major works, but also research on Handel's `borrowing' practices, his habit of using the existing musical ideas of other composers as well as his own. Yet Handel remains unsurpassed as one of the greatest compositional architects in the history of Western music, with a sure instinct for both balance and originality in the final result. In this insightful study, Donald Burrows brings to life not only the glory of Handel's artistry, but also his sometimes elusive personality and the flavour of the times and places in which he lived.

Review:

"Can also serve as a reference tool for Handel and his works...Libraries with the earlier edition of this book would do well to replace it with this current edition." --Choice"Burrows makes a valuable contribution towards restoring the balance...Burrows skillfully interweaves Handel's 'outward' biography with the 'inner' one of his creative life, linking the two aspects chronologically in irregularly alternating chapters. In this way the reader can conveniently use the book either as biography or as a commentary on the music...this is a considerable achievement. Burrows's study of Handel...provides us with a deeply informative and well-balanced composition."--BBC Music"A welcome addition to what has already proved itself to be an excellent, authoritative series of musical biographies"--Classical Music"This book, of Handelian solidity, is worth of its subject, ...The Clarendon Press, as usual, have responded to a worthy book worthily; production, print, and musical calligraphy are exemplary, and the scholarly apparatus and appendices aare exhaustive but not exhausting."--The Oldie"A properly balanced book, with due weight given to previously-neglected areas. It is particularly good to see Handel's English church music being given more attention. There is an immense amount of scholarship here, presented throughout the book in an accessible way ... an elegantly-produced hardback, it is outstandingly good value."--Peter Holman, The Musical TimesUNEDITED UK REVIEW: "Although precious few certain facts are known about Handel's pre-London career, this latest biography details them all in over 40 pages of well-reasoned narrative."--Classical Music."..the best single-volume book on Handel... 25.00 is very good value for a work of this size, let alone excellence: it augers well for the new management."--Early Music review"Not just a 'better' book, it is the best single-volume book on Handel ... The author has all the facts

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