Handel in London: A Genius and His Craft

Pegasus. Dec. 2018. 448p. illus. index. ISBN 9781681778815. $29.95. BIOG
George Friderich Handel (1685{amp}ndash;1750) is one of the great composers of the baroque style, though he is sometimes overshadowed by his contemporary Johann Sebastian Bach. If for nothing else, Handel will always be famous for his ever-popular oratorio Messiah. Yet he also wrote numerous operas, other oratorios, and instrumental pieces. Conductor, musical director, and author Glover (Mozart's Women) concentrates here on German-born Handel's time in London, where he lived from 1712 until his death. One of the most intriguing aspects of this biography is Handel's relations with members of the British monarchy, who offered continuing financial support for his musical aspirations. Another strength is its description of the cultural and political setting in which Handel worked. Remarkably, there is hardly a mention of Handel's personal life, for instance, his attitude toward women or religion. Moreover, there is no commentary on Handel's opinion of the work of other composers, though Bach is noted in passing. Numerous usually Italian arias from Handel's operas are cited in the text but rarely translated.
VERDICT Recommended for readers who wish to know more about Handel as an empresario for his own works.

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