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Title: Handel
Author: Dent, Edward J. (Edward Joseph), 1876-1957
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Handel" ***

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HANDEL

By Edward J. Dent



{Illustration: G. F. HANDEL _from a woodcut by Eric King_}



CONTENTS

_Chapter_ I

Birth and parentage--studies under Zachow at Halle--Hamburg--friendship and
duel with Mattheson--_Almira_--departure for Italy.

_Chapter_ II

Arrival in Italy--_Rodrigo_--Rome: Cardinal Ottoboni and the
Scarlattis--Naples: Venice: _Agrippina_--appointment at Hanover--London:
_Rinaldo_.

_Chapter_ III

Second visit to London--Italian opera--George I and the _Water
Music_--visit to Germany--Canons and the Duke of Chandos--establishment of
the Royal Academy of Music.

_Chapter_ IV

Buononcini--Cuzzoni, Faustina, and Senesino--death of George I--_The
Beggar's Opera_--collapse of the Academy.

_Chapter_ V

Handel naturalized--partnership with Heidegger--_Esther_--the Opera of
the Nobility--visit to Oxford--opera season at Covent Garden--Charles
Jennens--collapse of both opera-houses.

_Chapter_ VI

Bankruptcy and paralysis--visit to Aix-la-Chapelle--the last
operas--Vauxhall Gardens--Handel's "borrowings"--visit to
Ireland--_Messiah_ and other oratorios.

_Chapter_ VII

_Judas Maccabaeus_--Gluck--Thomas Morell--incipient blindness--Telemann and
his garden--last oratorios--death--character and personality.

_Bibliography and List of Works_



CHRONOLOGY

  1685.... Birth at Halle.
  1702.... Entered University; organist of the Cathedral.
  1703.... Went to Hamburg.
  1705.... First opera: _Almira_ (Hamburg).
  1707.... Arrival in Italy.
  1710.... Appointment at Hanover; first visit to London.
  1711.... First London opera: _Rinaldo_.
  1712.... Second visit to London.
  1717.... Appointment to the Duke of Chandos.
  1720.... Opening of Royal Academy of Music (Opera).
  1726.... Naturalized as a British subject.
  1728.... _The Beggar's Opera_. Collapse of the Academy.
  1732.... First public oratorio: _Esther_.
  1733.... Festival at Oxford.
  1737.... Collapse of Opera; Handel bankrupt and paralysed.
  1741.... Last opera: _Deidamia_.
  1742.... _Messiah_ at Dublin.
  1751.... First signs of blindness. Last oratorio _Jeptha_.
  1759.... Death in London.



CHAPTER I

Birth and parentage--studies under Zachow at Halle--Hamburg--friendship and
duel with Mattheson--Almira--departure for Italy.


The name of Handel suggests to most people the sound of music unsurpassed
in massiveness and dignity, and the familiar portraits of the composer
present us with a man whose external appearance was no less massive and
dignified than his music. Countless anecdotes point him out to us as a
well-known figure in the life of London during the reigns of Queen Anne
and the first two Georges. He lies buried in Westminster Abbey. One would
expect every detail of his life to be known and recorded, his every private
thought to be revealed with the pellucid clarity of his immortal strains.
It is not so; to assemble the bare facts of Handel's life is a problem
which has baffled the most laborious of his biographers, and his inward
personality is more mysterious than that of any other great musician of the
last two centuries.

The _Memoirs of the Life of the late George Frederic Handel_, written by
the Rev. John Mainwaring in 1760, a year after his death, is the first
example of a whole book devoted to the biography of a musician. The author
had never known Handel himself; he obtained his material chiefly from
Handel's secretary, John Christopher Smith the younger. Mainwaring is our
only authority for the story of Handel's early life. Many of his statements
have been proved to be untrue, but there is undoubtedly a foundation of
truth beneath most of them, however misleading either Smith's memory or
Mainwaring's imagination may have been. The rest of our knowledge has to
be built up from scattered documents of various kinds, helped out by the
reminiscences of Dr. Burney and Sir John Hawkins. For the inner life of
Mozart and Beethoven we can turn to copious letters and other personal
writings; Handel's extant letters do not amount to more than about twenty
in all, and it is only rarely that they throw much light on the workings of
his mind.

The family of Handel belonged originally to Breslau. The name is found
in various forms; it seems originally to have been _Händeler_ signifying
trader, but by the time the composer was born the spelling _Händel_ had
been adopted. This is the correct German form of his name; in Italy he
wrote his name _Hendel_, in order to ensure its proper pronunciation, and
in England he was known, for the same reason, as Handel. The Handels of
Breslau had for several generations been coppersmiths. Valentine Handel,
the composer's grandfather, born in 1582, migrated to Halle, where two of
his sons followed the same trade. His third son, George, born 1622, became
a barber-surgeon. At the age of twenty he married the widow of the barber
to whom he had been apprenticed; she was twelve years older than he was. In
1682 she died, and George Handel, although sixty years of age, married a
second wife within half a year. Her name was Dorothea Taust; her father,
like most of his ancestors, was a clergyman. Her age was thirty-two. Her
first child, born in 1684, died at birth; her second, born February 23,
1685, was baptised the following day with the name of George Frederic.

The town of Halle had originally belonged to the Dukes of Saxony, but after
the Thirty Years' War it was assigned to the Elector of Brandenburg. George
Frederic Handel was therefore born a Prussian. But Duke Augustus of Saxony
was allowed to keep his court at the Moritzburg in Halle, and it was this
prince who made George Handel his personal surgeon. After Duke Augustus's
death in 1680, Halle was definitely transferred to Brandenburg, and the new
Duke, Johann Adolf, took up his residence at Weissenfels, twenty-five miles
to the south-west of Halle. At the time of George Frederic's birth, Halle
had relapsed into being a quiet provincial town. The musical life of
Germany in those days was chiefly centred in the numerous small courts,
each of which did its best to imitate the magnificence of Louis XIV at
Paris and Versailles. But the seventeenth century, although it produced
very few musicians of outstanding greatness, was a century of restless
musical activity throughout Europe, especially in the more private and
domestic branches of the art. The Reformation had made music the vehicle of
personal devotion, and the enormous output of a peculiarly intimate type of
sacred music, both in Germany and in England, shows that there must have
been a keen demand for it in Protestant home life.

George Handel, the surgeon, seems to have hated music. There is no evidence
that either his wife or her sister, who shared their home after her
father's death in 1685, was musically gifted, but the mere fact of their
being the daughters of a Lutheran pastor makes it probable that they had
had some education in the art. We may safely guess that the composer
inherited his musical talents from the Taust family. He showed his
inclination for music at a very early age, with such insistence indeed
that his father forbade him to touch any musical instrument. There is a
well-known story of his contriving to smuggle a clavichord into a garret
without his father's knowledge in order to practise on it while the rest of
the family were asleep, but for this tale Mainwaring is our only authority.
It is very probable that old Handel was irritated by the sound of his son's
early efforts and regarded music as a waste of time; his wife may perhaps
have encouraged the child's obvious abilities, taking care that he made
music only in some part of the house where he would not disturb his father.

At the age of seven he was sent to the Lutheran Grammar School, and he may
very likely have had some instruction in singing while there. In any case
there can be no doubt that he was taught more than the mere rudiments of
music in childhood, however severe his father's opposition may have been.
He was between seven and nine when his father took him to Weissenfels,
where he was required to attend on the Duke. It is quite probable that the
child may have been taken there several times, especially as a relative
of his was in regular service in the Duke's establishment. One day he was
allowed to play on the organ in the palace chapel; the Duke happened to
hear him, made enquiries as to who the player was, and at once urged on the
father the duty of having him properly trained for a musical career.

Old Handel remained obstinate; he was determined that his son should have
a liberal education and become a lawyer. By his own efforts he had raised
himself to a position of some distinction and affluence; it was only
natural that he should wish his son to enter on life with better advantages
than he himself had enjoyed. He at any rate followed the advice of the Duke
so far as to place the boy under the musical tuition of Friedrich Zachow,
the organist of the Lutheran church at Halle.

The next episode in George Frederic's career has considerably puzzled his
biographers. Mainwaring asserts that in 1698 he went to Berlin, where he
was presented to the Electress Sophia Charlotte and made the acquaintance
of Ariosti and Giovanni Battista Buononcini, two famous Italian opera
composers whom he was to encounter again, in London, many years later. But
it is known that Ariosti did not arrive in Berlin until the spring of 1697,
and Buononcini not until 1702. And as old Handel died in February 1697, his
son cannot have been in Berlin later than about the end of 1696, if it is
true (as Mainwaring says) that the Elector offered to send him to Italy, an
offer which the father firmly refused to accept for him. If, on the other
hand, Mainwaring is right in saying that young Handel went to Berlin with a
view to obtaining a musical post there, it is hardly likely that he should
have made the journey at ten years of age, and while his father was still
living. It seems much more probable that if he ever did visit Berlin it was
when he was of an age to form his own judgments as to his future career.

Three days before his seventeenth birthday he matriculated as a law student
of the University of Halle, but music must have been the chief occupation
of his time. The composer Telemann, four years his senior, spoke of him
as being already a musician of importance at Halle when he first met him
there, probably in 1700. In March 1702 he was appointed organist at the
Cathedral, although he belonged to the Lutheran Church, whereas the
Cathedral was Calvinist; considerable scandal had been caused by the
intemperance of the Cathedral organist, one Leporin, who was finally
dismissed. That Handel should have been given the post at so early an age
points to his ability and trustworthiness of character; it also suggests
that efficient organists were rare among the Calvinist musicians.

Mainwaring unjustly credited Zachow with Leporin's love of a cheerful
glass, and other biographers have perhaps for this reason greatly
underrated Zachow's musicianship. Zachow cannot indeed be classed as a
great composer, but he was considerably more than merely a sound average
teacher. For one thing, he possessed a large library of music. Handel was
not only made to master the arts of counterpoint and fugue, but he was also
set to study the works of other composers, and to train his sense of style
by writing music in direct imitation of them. In those days there was
no possibility of buying all sorts of music ready printed. Printing was
expensive, and generally clumsy in execution as well; most music was copied
by hand, and a musician who wished to acquire a library of music generally
did so by borrowing it and copying it. Zachow employed Handel to copy music
for him, and no doubt he copied a great deal for himself. Although the
opportunities for hearing music would not be very liberal in a town like
Halle, Handel, under Zachow, became a well-read musician as well as an
accomplished one.

During the seventeenth century the chief contribution of Germany to the
art of music was religious, just as the German hymns were her chief
contribution to poetry. In Italy, on the other hand, sacred music was of
minor importance as compared with the development of opera. But in all
music Italy led the way, and German sacred music was constantly influenced
by the Italians, with the result that Italian dramatic methods were often
used by German composers of sacred music, not with any loss of seriousness
and dignity to its character, but rather to the intenser expression of that
deep personal religious feeling which characterised both the poetry and the
music of the Protestant nations.

Zachow was well acquainted with the Italian masters, and his own Church
music shows a vivid dramatic sense; it is easy to see how much Handel
learned from him. But although Church cantatas and organ music may have
sufficed for the majority of the innumerable worthy German musicians of
those days, the form of music which excited the curiosity and interest of
the livelier spirits was certainly opera. By 1700, opera had established
itself all over Italy, supported mainly by the great princes, but at Venice
maintained on a commercial basis by the citizens themselves since 1637. The
first attempt at a German opera was made by Heinrich Schütz, at Torgau,
ten years earlier. Vienna introduced Italian opera in 1631, and, generally
speaking, the Catholic princes of Germany, who one after another followed
the example of Vienna, preferred opera in Italian. Protestant Germany
inclined more to opera in its own language, though towards the end of the
century Italian gradually gained the upper hand at the more important
courts. Native German opera owed its origin partly to the visit of the
English comedians early in the century, and partly to the musical plays
acted by school-boys; from the English "jigs" came the use of short popular
songs, and from the school plays the tendency of the early German operas to
be of a more or less sacred or edifying character.

Handel's friend, the composer Telemann, tells us that it was not unusual
for students from the University of Leipzig to go to Berlin to hear the
Italian opera, which had been established by the Electress Sophia Charlotte
in 1700, and this suggests that Handel's visit to Berlin may have
taken place in 1703 rather than in his childhood. But he certainly had
opportunities for seeing operas nearer home. There had been many German
operas performed at Halle itself during the twenty years before Handel's
birth, and Duke Johann Adolf opened an opera-house at Weissenfels in 1685,
in which Philipp Krieger produced German operas regularly for the next
thirty years. There was thus every reason for young Handel's growing
ambitious to become a composer for the stage, although we have no evidence
of his having ever attempted dramatic composition until he left Halle in
1703.

The most important of all the north German opera-houses was that of
Hamburg, where the opera did not depend on the patronage of a court,
but was organised, as at Venice, as a public entertainment. Hamburg had
attempted German opera as early as 1648, and it is interesting to note that
the English composer William Brade was one of those who provided the music;
but the real history of the Hamburg opera may be said to begin with the
performance of Theile's _Adam and Eve_ in the newly built theatre in the
Goose-Market in 1678. When Handel arrived in Hamburg in the summer of 1703
the biblical operas had long come to an end, and the theatre was under the
management of Reinhold Keiser.

Keiser was a musician of remarkable genius. His father was a disreputable
organist, and his mother a young lady of noble family who had been hastily
married at the age of sixteen. Born near Weissenfels in 1674, he had begun
his operatic career at Brunswick at the age of eighteen; three years later
he took over the direction of the opera at Hamburg, where he produced a
large number of operas composed by himself. As a composer, Keiser had a
singular fluency of melody in a style that hovers between those of Germany
and Italy; had he been a man of more solid character he might have
accomplished greater things. But he had inherited from his parents a love
of pleasure and debauchery; extravagant in his private life, he was no less
extravagant in his theatrical management, and was ready to provide his
audiences with anything in the way of startling sensation. One of his most
famous operas was on the subject of Störtebeker, a notorious highwayman
(1704), in which murders were represented with the most disgusting realism.

Hamburg was the Venice of the north and, like Venice, a city of pleasure;
but its pleasures were often of a coarse and licentious description. Life
in Hamburg was probably not much unlike that of Restoration London; but
though Keiser may well be set beside Purcell, Hamburg had no dramatists to
compare with Congreve, hardly even with Shadwell. Jeremy Collier, however,
was far outdone in vituperation by the puritan clergy who, not altogether
without reason, castigated the immorality of the Hamburg stage.

Handel seems to have arrived in Hamburg in early summer of 1703, for we
first hear of him there on July 2, when he met Johann Mattheson in the
church of St. Mary Magdalen. It seems to have been a chance acquaintance,
to judge from Mattheson's account; it stuck in Mattheson's memory for many
years and he remembered especially the pastry-cook's boy who blew the organ
for Handel and himself. Mattheson was four years older than Handel; he was
one of those precociously gifted, versatile, attractive, and rather vain
young men who are endowed with so many talents that they never achieve
distinction in any branch of art. He is remembered now only by the literary
work of his later life, in which he shows himself as a voluminous pedant
and an embittered critic. He made friends with Handel on the spot, and took
him under his own protection, providing him with almost daily free meals
at his father's house. He evidently regarded him as a very simple and
provincial young musician, a notable organist indeed, and a master of such
learned devices as counterpoint and fugue, but a dull composer, turning out
endless arias and cantatas with no sense of the fashionable Italian taste.

It was Mattheson, by his own account, who introduced Handel to the musical
life of Hamburg. The opera was closed for the summer, and Keiser's
celebrated winter concerts, at which the wealthy society of Hamburg
listened to the most famous singers and regaled themselves with tokay, had
not yet begun; but there was no lack of social distractions, in which music
no doubt played its part. In August the two friends made a journey to
Lubeck, to compete for the post of organist at the Marienkirche in
succession to Dietrich Buxtehude, who was nearly seventy and ready to
retire. But both Buxtehude and the town council insisted that the new
organist should marry his predecessor's daughter, in order to save the town
the necessity of providing for her; she was considerably older than the
two youthful candidates, and they both withdrew in haste. Late in life
Mattheson married the daughter of an English clergyman; Handel remained a
bachelor to the end of his days.

It was no doubt through Mattheson that Handel, in the autumn, entered the
opera band as a humble second violinist. He seems to have been of a very
retiring and quiet disposition, although of a dry humour. Opera management
at Hamburg was no less precarious than it was in London; Keiser could
not afford the Italian singers patronised by the German princes, and his
performances had often to be helped out by amateurs of all classes. On one
occasion the harpsichord-player failed him; Handel took his place at
short notice, and his musicianship was at once recognised. Unfortunately
Mattheson, whose chronology is always rather uncertain, does not tell us
when this occurred. In addition to his duties in the orchestra, Handel
earned a living by teaching private pupils, and through Mattheson he was
engaged by Mr. John Wyche, the English Envoy, as music-master to his small
son Cyril.

Early in 1704 Mattheson went to Holland, where he had some success in
organising concerts at Amsterdam, and was offered the post of organist at
Haarlem. He seems to have had some idea of seeking his fortune in England;
he spoke English well, and may have had useful connexions in England
through Mr. John Wyche. But in March Handel wrote to him that the Hamburg
opera could not get on without him, and to Hamburg he returned. It soon
must have become clear to him that Handel was rapidly outgrowing any need
of his condescending patronage. A _Passion according to St. John_, the
words of which had been written by Postel, an opera-poet turned pietist,
had been set to music by Handel, and performed on Good Friday with marked
success. Mattheson arrived too late to hear it, but it is significant that
twenty years later he published a scathing criticism of it, although it is
a work of little importance in relation to Handel's complete career, and
can seldom have been performed. A Passion oratorio by Keiser was produced
at the same time, it may well have been that Handel's work, youthful and
conventional as it is, was enough to arouse the jealousy of both Keiser and
Mattheson.

Shortly after Easter, Keiser began the composition of a new opera,
_Almira_, on a libretto by the local poet Feustking, but for some reason or
other he found it necessary to call in Handel's assistance, and eventually
left the whole work to Handel to compose. It was to be produced in the
autumn. Handel seems to have consulted Mattheson over every detail of the
opera; there exists a complete score in Mattheson's handwriting, with
corrections and additions by Handel. Mattheson spent the summer enjoying a
country holiday in Mecklenburg; Handel probably went on with his opera,
at Hamburg. In October, just as the opera season was reopening, Mattheson
contrived to get himself engaged by Sir Cyril Wych as tutor to his son;
he also took over the boy's musical education, hinting that Handel
was dismissed for neglect of his duties. In view of Handel's strictly
honourable character it is difficult to believe that he was guilty of
neglect, and we may naturally suppose him to have resented the loss of a
lucrative appointment.

The first opera of the autumn was not Handel's _Almira_, but an opera by
Mattheson, called _Cleopatra_. Mattheson, always eager to exhibit his
versatility, sang the part of Antony himself, and, not content with that,
came into the orchestra as soon as Antony had died on the stage and kept
himself in view of the audience by conducting at the harpsichord. For
several performances Handel made no objection and gave up his seat to
Mattheson when the moment came, but on December 5, for some reason or
other, he refused, to the surprise and indignation of the composer. German
musicians in those days were a quarrelsome crew; at the court of Stuttgart
the musicians were so much given to knocking each other on the head with
their instruments, even in the august presence of His Serene Highness, that
there was hardly one left undamaged. It was only to be expected that the
friends of Handel and Mattheson should egg them on to fight a duel in the
street; luckily Mattheson's sword broke on a button of Handel's coat, and
the duel ended. On December 30 a town councillor effected a reconciliation;
the rivals dined together at Mattheson's house and went on to the rehearsal
of _Almira_, which was brought out on January 8, 1705, with Mattheson as
the principal tenor.

_Almira_, the libretto of which was partly in German and partly in Italian,
ran continuously for about twenty performances until February 25, when it
was succeeded by _Nero_, another opera which Handel had hastily composed
for the occasion. _Nero_, in which Mattheson sang the title part, was a
failure. The music is lost, but the libretto survives, and that is enough
to account for the collapse. The opera had three performances only. In the
very same season Keiser re-set _Nero_ to music himself, and brought it
out under the title of _Octavia_; shortly afterwards he did the same with
_Almira_, which was performed in August of the same year. Although Keiser's
operas were no more successful than Handel's, and his extravagance and
mismanagement forced him to leave Hamburg for three years in order to avoid
imprisonment, it is evident that he had made Handel's position in the
theatre impossible. Handel withdrew into private life and devoted himself
to earning a living by teaching. Mattheson says that Handel remained in
Hamburg until 1709, and that he still worked in the theatre, but the first
of these statements is certainly untrue, and the second probably so.
Mattheson himself left the theatre after the failure of Handel's _Nero_,
and his friendship with Handel seems to have come to an end. About Handel's
subsequent life in Hamburg we know nothing, until the theatre was taken
over by one Saurbrey in the autumn of 1706. Saurbrey commissioned an opera
from Handel, but, owing to the confusion in which Keiser had left the
affairs of the theatre, it could not be brought out until January 1708,
when it was found to be so long that it had to be divided into two operas,
_Florindo_ and _Daphne_, both of which were put on the stage successively.
By that time Handel had left Hamburg for Italy; he evidently took little
interest in the production of these works, neither of which has survived.

It was during the run of _Almira_, says Mainwaring, that Handel made the
acquaintance of Prince Gian Gastone de' Medici, son of the Grand Duke Cosmo
III of Tuscany. Mainwaring's date is wrong, for it is known that Gian
Gastone at that time was in Bohemia with his wife, a German princess, to
whom he had been married against his will. But it is also known that he was
in Hamburg for a few months during the winter of 1703-04, and, if he met
Handel at that time, the rest of Mainwaring's story becomes much more
credible than subsequent biographers have been willing to admit. According
to Mainwaring, Handel became almost an intimate friend of the Prince; they
often discussed music together, and the Prince lamented that Handel was
unacquainted with the music and musical life of Italy. "Handel confessed
that he could see nothing in Italian music which answered the high
character His Highness had given it. On the contrary, he thought it so very
indifferent, that the singers, he said, must be angels to recommend it."
Gian Gastone urged him to come to Italy and hear for himself, intimating
"that if he chose to return with him, no conveniences should be wanting."
Handel declined the invitation, but resolved to go to Italy as soon as he
could do so "on his own bottom."

Gian Gastone was a spendthrift and a profligate; his moral reputation was
of the worst, and he was chronically in debt. That, however, would not make
it unthinkable that after a glass of wine he should invite Handel to come
to Italy with him, but Handel may well have known enough about the Prince
even then to reply to the proposal with tactful evasiveness. From what
Mattheson says of Handel on his first arrival in Hamburg, it is quite
likely that he was contemptuous of Italian opera music, and it is equally
likely that after the success of _Almira_ his views on Italian opera
underwent a change. It is obvious that Hamburg had no further chances to
offer him, and the attraction of Italy was at that time so vivid to
all young German musicians that not one of them would have refused an
opportunity of making the journey.

The date of Handel's departure from Hamburg is unknown, nor have we the
slightest information as to his whereabouts until we hear of him at Rome in
January 1707. Chrysander's statement that he spent Christmas 1706 with his
mother at Halle is manifestly untrue. Mattheson says that he travelled to
Rome with a Herr von Binitz, but nothing is known of this gentleman. His
most natural route into Italy would be by the Brenner, the historic road of
all German pilgrims.

Handel may well have been glad to leave Hamburg, but Hamburg did not forget
him. He is mentioned in a theatrical manifesto of 1708 as being already
"beloved and celebrated in Italy"; Barthold Feind, one of the Hamburg
librettists, who in 1715 translated Handel's _Rinaldo_, called him "the
incomparable Handel, the Orpheus of our time"; and from 1715 to 1734 almost
all of Handel's London operas were represented on the Hamburg stage.



CHAPTER II

Arrival in Italy--_Rodrigo_--Rome: Cardinal Ottoboni and the
Scarlattis--Naples: Venice: _Agrippina_--appointment at Hanover--London:
_Rinaldo_.


Handel spent three years in Italy. The known facts about his life there are
singularly few, and his biographers have often had to draw copiously on
their imagination. They may perhaps be forgiven for doing so, since they
rightly sought to emphasise the fact that these three years were the most
formative period of Handel's personality as a composer. Handel came to
Italy as a German; he left Italy an Italian, as far as his music was
concerned, and, despite all other influences, Italian was the foundation of
his musical language until the end of his life.

On January 14, 1707, a Roman chronicler noted the arrival of "a Saxon, an
excellent player on the harpsichord and a composer of music, who has to-day
displayed his ability in playing the organ in the church of St. John
[Lateran] to the amazement of everyone." This can hardly refer to anyone
else than Handel, who throughout his sojourn in Italy was always known as
"the Saxon" (_il Sassone_). We owe the discovery of this important document
to Mr. Newman Flower. The next date known to us is that of April 11--on the
manuscript of Handel's _Dixit Dominus_, composed in Rome.

Most biographers have, however, assumed that Handel's first halt in Italy
would have been made at Florence, in view of the fact that Gian Gastone de'
Medici is known to have been at Florence from June 1705 to November 1706.
The eldest son of the Grand Duke, Prince Ferdinand, was an enthusiastic
patron of music, who employed the best musicians of the day to perform
operas in his magnificent country palace at Pratolino, some twelve miles
north of Florence. It has been suggested that Handel's first Italian opera,
_Rodrigo_, was composed for Ferdinand and performed early in 1707, but, in
view of Mr. Flower's discovery, this seems unlikely. Mr. Flower suggests,
indeed, that Ferdinand did not take much interest in Handel, otherwise he
would not have allowed him to go to Rome so soon. This is not impossible,
for we know that Ferdinand found the operas of Alessandro Scarlatti too
serious for his taste, and he may well have thought even less of Handel's
music, which (as we can see from the score of _Rodrigo_) was still very
German in style.

Rome could offer Handel no opportunities either for composing operas or
even for hearing them. Pope Clement X had permitted the opening of a public
opera-house (the Teatro Tordinona) in 1671, but it was closed five years
later by Innocent XI, who made every effort he could to suppress opera both
in public and in private. Innocent XII, who became Pope in 1691, seems to
have been, at first, less intolerant, for the theatre was rebuilt, and a
few performances were given; but in 1697 he ordered its destruction on
grounds of public morality. Except for a few performances of opera in
private in 1701 and 1702 no operas were produced in Rome until 1709.

Deprived of opera, the Romans devoted themselves to oratorio--which in
musical style was much the same thing--and to chamber music. The most
generous patron of music in Rome was the young Cardinal Ottoboni, who had
been raised to the purple in his early twenties, in 1690. He had indeed
composed an opera himself, which was performed in 1692, but he was more
competent as a poet than as a musician; in 1690 Alessandro Scarlatti had
set a libretto of his, _La Statira_.

Handel was no doubt recommended to him by Ferdinand de' Medici, and at the
Cardinal's weekly musical parties he soon came into contact with Domenico
Scarlatti, as well as with Corelli and Pasquini. Alessandro Scarlatti had
left Naples, probably for political reasons, in 1702, and at the end of
1703 Ottoboni had secured him a subordinate post at the church of Santa
Maria Maggiore, at the same time appointing him his private director of
music. Domenico was a young man of Handel's own age--"a young eagle" as
his father called him--brilliantly gifted, and (to judge from Thomas
Roseingrave's impression of him) possessed of a singular personal
fascination. "Handel," says Mainwaring, "used often to speak of this person
with great satisfaction; and indeed there was reason for it; for besides
his great talents as an artist, he had the sweetest temper, and the
genteelest behaviour." We may indeed regard his friendship with Handel
as safely authenticated. It is just possible that Handel may have met
Alessandro Scarlatti at Pratolino in the previous autumn, as his opera _Il
Gran Tamerlano_ was produced there in September; he may well have met him
between January and April of 1707. From April to September Alessandro
Scarlatti was in Urbino.

Handel's movements now become very difficult to follow. It seems probable
that his opera _Rodrigo_ was performed at Florence in the autumn of 1707;
Mainwaring says that it was composed for Ferdinand de' Medici, but there is
no record of any performance at Pratolino. As Handel is said to have been
presented to Prince Ernest Augustus of Hanover at Venice, he must have been
there in October or November, as the Prince is known to have spent only
those two months in that city. Whether Handel remained at Venice over
Christmas, or whether he returned to Rome, is uncertain. Domenico Scarlatti
is said to have identified him at Venice at a masquerade by his playing of
the harpsichord. It would be most natural to suppose then that Handel
and the two Scarlattis were in Venice together for the production of
Alessandro's two operas, _Mitridate Eupatore_ and _Il Trionfo della
Libertà_, both of which were brought out at Venice in 1707, but, as it is
not known whether this took place at the beginning or at the end of the
year, there is not sufficient evidence to support such a conjecture.

During March and April 1708, Handel was the guest of Prince Ruspoli in
Rome; this has been definitely ascertained by Mr. Flower. Prince Ruspoli
was another great Roman patron of music, and Scarlatti frequently composed
works for him; his _Annunciation Oratorio_ was performed under his auspices
on March 25. On Easter Sunday, April 8, Handel made a triumphal appearance
with _La Resurrezione_, which was given on a sumptuous scale, at Ruspoli's
expense, in the Palazzo Bonelli, which he was occupying at the time.
Corelli led the orchestra.

After _La Resurrezione_, Handel seems to have returned to the patronage
of Cardinal Ottoboni, in whose palace he produced a _serenata_ (i.e. an
allegorical cantata) called _Il Trionfa del Tempo e del Disinganno_, which
he remodelled fifty years afterwards as _The Triumph of Time and Truth_.
The libretto was by Cardinal Pamphilij. It was the overture to this work
which caused so much difficulty to Corelli. Handel, irritated at his lack
of understanding, snatched the violin from his hand and played the passage
himself, to show how it should be executed; Corelli, gentlest of souls,
took no offence, although thirty-two years his senior and the greatest
violinist living, but merely observed, "My dear Saxon, this music is in the
French style, of which I have no knowledge."

It has been assumed by many biographers that Handel attended the meetings
of the Arcadian Academy, and since Prince Ruspoli was a great, benefactor
to the Academy, this is extremely probable, although there is no evidence
for it. Handel was not a member of the Academy, and various reasons for
this have been suggested, such as that he was a foreigner and also too
young to be admitted. It is more probable that his admission to that
exclusive society was never even contemplated; musicians were generally
engaged professionally for the concerts of the Italian academies, but very
seldom admitted to the honour of membership. Corelli, Pasquini and
Alessandro Scarlatti were all admitted together in 1705; they were the
three senior and most distinguished composers of the time, and as no other
musicians were then members, it may be assumed that these elections
constituted an exceptional honour.


Mainwaring relates that Cardinal Pamphili; on one occasion wrote a poem in
honour of Handel and desired him to set it to music himself; in this poem
"he was compared to Orpheus, and exalted above the rank of mortals." Later
biographers, being unable to trace any music of Handel to this poem,
assumed that Handel was too modest to sing his own praises; but he was not,
for the original manuscript of the cantata was found by the present writer
in the University Library at Münster in Westphalia. As Mainwaring informs
us, Handel is compared by the poet (whose name is not given) to Orpheus and
indeed exalted above him. "Orpheus," says the Cardinal, "could move rocks
and trees, but he could not make them sing; therefore thou art greater than
Orpheus, for thou compellest my aged Muse to song." The style of both words
and music suggests that the whole cantata was thrown off, as Mainwaring
suggests, on the spur of the moment, and this improvisation may well
have taken place at one of the Arcadians' garden parties, for there is a
well-known account of a similar improvisation by the poet Zappi and the
composer Alessandro Scarlatti.

Handel was by this time fully accepted as one of the leading musicians in
Italy, for in June he composed a pastoral, _Aci, Galatea e Polifemo_, for
the marriage of the Duke of Alvito at Naples on July 19. It was in July
1708 that the Austrian Viceroy of Naples, Count Daun, was succeeded by
Cardinal Grimani, who, towards the end of the year, persuaded Alessandro
Scarlatti to return to the service of the royal chapel. As a good friend to
Scarlatti, the Cardinal was sure to interest himself in Handel, and it was
probably through him that Handel was commissioned to write an opera for
Venice, as the Grimani were a great Venetian family and owned the principal
opera-house there. How long Handel stayed at Naples we do not know; all
that Mainwaring tells us is that he was taken up by a Spanish princess,
but, as Naples had belonged to Spain for a hundred and fifty years, Spanish
princesses can have been no rarities there, and it is impossible to
identify this lady.

From July 1708 until December 1709 we lose sight of Handel entirely. On
December 26, the first night of the carnival season, his opera _Agrippina_
was produced at Venice. The libretto was by Cardinal Grimani, who had
already written other dramas for music, all produced, like Handel's, at the
Teatro San Giovanni Crisostomo in Venice. Venice was the first city which
had undertaken opera on a commercial basis, open to the public on payment,
whereas in other places it depended for many years on the munificence of
princes and nobles. At Venice there existed not one theatre, but several,
devoted to opera, each called after the name of the parish in which it was
situated, and, of these, the theatre of St. John Chrysostom, built by the
Grimani family and still standing (though much remodelled) under the name
of Teatro Malibran, was the largest and most important. The Inquisition
took a more tolerant view of opera than the Pope; a Venetian preacher
admonished actors and singers to remember that they "were abominated of
God, but tolerated by the Government by desire of those who took delight in
their iniquities."

_Agrippina_ aroused an extraordinary enthusiasm. "The theatre, at almost
every pause, resounded with shouts and acclamations of _viva il taro
Sassone!_ and other expressions of approbation too extravagant to be
mentioned" (Mainwaring). The title part was sung by Margherita Durastanti,
and another singer who appeared in the opera was Boschi, the famous bass;
both of them were to sing for Handel in London later on. It is fairly
certain that Boschi must have sung the part of Polyphemus in Handel's
Italian _Aci e Galatea_ at Naples, for it bears a striking resemblance to
other songs written for Boschi, whose voice was of exceptional range. The
opera ran for twenty-seven nights.

After this unprecedented triumph it seems surprising that Handel did not
remain in Italy, where he had so many friends who could ensure his success.
It is probable that by the time _Agrippina_ was performed, if not indeed
long before, he had been promised the post of Kapellmeister to the court of
Hanover. The actual appointment is dated June 16, 1710. But no sooner was
Handel appointed than he at once obtained leave of absence, and went on,
first to Düsseldorf, and then to London. It was probably the Elector's
intention that he should spend some time in foreign travel before taking up
regular duty.

The three years which Handel spent in Italy at the most impressionable
period of his life fixed the characteristics of his style as a composer,
and we may well suppose that they exercised a decisive influence on his
personality and character. His youth had been spent in the respectable
middle-class environment of his home at Halle; then came the three years at
Hamburg, fantastic and exciting, yet, despite all the artistic stimulus of
Keiser's opera-house, inevitably sordid and provincial. Italy introduced
him to an entirely different atmosphere--to a life of dignity and serenity
in which a classical culture, both literary and artistic, was the matured
fruit of wealth, leisure, and good breeding. That exquisite life found its
highest musical expression in Alessandro Scarlatti, who at that period was
incontestably the greatest of living musicians. On his style Handel formed
his own, and it is interesting to note that of all Scarlatti's operas the
one which most strikingly foreshadows the genius of Handel is _Mitridate_,
which Handel may possibly have seen at Venice in the winter of 1707-08.
The musical library of Handel's English friend Charles Jennens contained a
large collection of Scarlatti's manuscripts, and there can be little doubt
that it was Handel who brought them with him from Italy.

In Venice, Handel had made the acquaintance of Prince Ernest of Hanover,
younger brother of the Elector Georg Ludwig who was eventually to become
King of England as George I. With Prince Ernest was Baron Kielmansegge, who
for many years afterwards remained a firm supporter of Handel, and another
Venetian acquaintance was the Duke of Manchester, English Ambassador to the
Republic of Venice. Through Prince Ernest, and Kielmansegge, Handel was
recommended to the court of Hanover; the Duke of Manchester gave him a
pressing invitation to England. Music in Hanover was under the direction of
an Italian, Agostino Steffani, who was not only a musician but priest and
diplomatist as well. Born at Castelfranco in 1654, he was taken as a boy
to Munich, where he studied music, and, in 1680 entered the priesthood; he
produced several operas there, and about 1689 became Kapellmeister to the
court of Hanover. Here he was employed on important diplomatic business;
Pope Innocent XI made him titular Bishop of Spiga in the West Indies,
and in 1698 he was Ambassador at Brussels. In 1709 he became the Pope's
representative for North Germany, and it was doubtless owing to his heavy
ecclesiastical duties that he resigned his musical post in favour of
Handel, although Hanover remained his chief place of residence until his
death in 1728. He was in Rome in 1708 and 1709, and it has been suggested
that he made Handel's acquaintance there, but this hardly seems consistent
with Handel's own statement, recorded by Hawkins in his _History of Music_:
"When I first arrived at Hanover I was a young man under twenty; I was
acquainted with the merits of Steffani and he had heard of me. I understood
somewhat of music, and could play pretty well on the organ; he received me
with great kindness, and took an early opportunity to introduce me to the
Princess Sophia and the Elector's son, giving them to understand that I
was what he was pleased to call a virtuoso in music; he obliged me with
instructions for my conduct and behaviour during my residence at Hanover;
and being called from the city to attend to matters of a public concern,
he left me in possession of that favour and patronage which himself had
enjoyed for a series of years." These statements of Handel seem, in fact,
to point to his having visited Hanover before he went to Italy, possibly
before he went to Hamburg, or, more probably, during the course of his
Hamburg period, in which case one might conclude that the Electress Sophia
had defrayed the cost of Handel's Italian journey. Even if Handel made
a mistake as to his age, he clearly implies that his first meeting with
Steffani took place in Hanover.

At Düsseldorf, Handel was sure of a warm welcome, for the Elector Johann
Wilhelm was a close friend of Steffani, and his wife was a sister of
Ferdinand and Gian Gastone de' Medici; he was a man of extravagant tastes,
and his opera-house was maintained on the most magnificent scale. But
Handel did not stay there long; England was a greater attraction, and he
arrived in London for the first time in the autumn of 1710.

Nothing is known of Handel's early days in London, but it may be safely
assumed that he was provided with letters of introduction to persons
of influence. We meet him first in the company of Heidegger, a Swiss
adventurer who achieved notoriety through his incredible ugliness, and from
1709 onwards was concerned in the management of the opera at the Queen's
Theatre in the Haymarket. Through Heidegger, Handel was introduced to Mary
Granville, then a little girl of ten, whom he delighted by his performance
on her own spinet. Her uncle, Sir John Stanley, asked her if she thought
she should ever play as well as Mr. Handel. "If I did not think I should,"
she cried, "I would burn my instrument!" Mary Granville, who, seven years
later, married a Mr. Pendarves, and in 1743 became the wife of Dr. Delany,
was for many years one of Handel's most faithful friends and supporters.

In the reign of Queen Anne the musical life of London was developing in a
new fashion as compared with what it was in the last twenty years of the
previous century. The type of English opera which Purcell and Dryden
had created came to an end with Purcell's death in 1695. Italian music,
especially when sung by Italian singers, was gradually becoming more and
more popular with London concert-audiences, and in 1705 Thomas Clayton
produced at Drury Lane an opera called _Arsinoe, Queen of Cyprus_. Clayton
had visited Italy, and had brought back with him a collection of Italian
songs; he got Peter Motteux to translate for him an old Italian opera
libretto, and adapted these songs to it. How much of _Arsinoe_ was
Clayton's own work is not known; Burney speaks of the opera with nothing
but contempt. Yet it seems to have had some fair success, and was even
revived the following year; but Clayton's _Rosamond_, to a libretto by
Addison, did not survive three performances. It was followed by a series of
Italian operas composed by Buononcini, Scarlatti, and others; at first the
operas were in English, and sung by English singers, but gradually Italian
was introduced, as at Hamburg, and in 1710 an opera called _Almahide_, the
music of which Burney ascribes conjecturally to Buononcini, was given in
Italian with an entirely Italian company. The victory of the Italians was
due mainly to the marvellous singing and acting of Nicola Grimaldi, known
as Nicolini, who first appeared in London in Scarlatti's _Pyrrhus and
Demetrius_. Nicolini was not the first _castrato_ who had been heard in
England; the famous Siface had been brought over by Queen Mary of Modena in
1687. But Nicolini was the first who appeared on the English stage, and
it was he who paved the way for Senesino, Farinelli, and the rest, and
established that annual season of Italian opera which is not yet extinct.

At the time when Handel arrived in London the opera company had migrated
from Drury Lane to Vanbrugh's new theatre in the Haymarket, where it was
under the management of Aaron Hill, an enterprising young man of Handel's
own age who was ready to pursue any sort of career that chance might offer
him, whether in literature, music, or business adventure. We may safely
hazard a guess that it was Boschi who persuaded Hill to invite Handel to
compose an opera for the Queen's Theatre, as Boschi had already sung, in
November 1710, in _Hydaspes_, an opera by Francesco Mancini, in which
Nicolini delighted his audience in a fight with a lion. Hill sketched a
plot based on Tasso's _Jerusalem Delivered_, and an Italian libretto was
hastily provided by Giacomo Rossi, Handel composing the music at the same
time, and often overtaking the poet. The music, in fact, was completed in
a fortnight, and the opera of _Rinaldo_ was first produced on the stage on
February 24, 1711. To judge from Burney's account of the preceding weeks
of the season, coupled with this astonishingly rapid collaboration, it is
probable that Hill was in a difficult situation, from which only a new and
strikingly successful opera could save him. _Rinaldo_ achieved the desired
success; it did more, it established Handel's reputation in England as a
dramatic composer, and set London a new standard in Italian opera. The
previous Italian operas had been works of little distinction, and some of
them had even been _pasticcio_ operas, as they were called, put together
from songs by various composers. Even Scarlatti's _Pyrrhus and Demetrius_
paled beside the new opera of Handel, for it had been written as far back
as 1694, and was in a style which Scarlatti himself had long abandoned.

_Rinaldo_ had fifteen performances in the course of the season. It provoked
bitter attacks from Addison in the _Spectator_ and from Steele in the
_Tatler_, but everybody knew that Addison's vanity was wounded by the
grotesque failure of _Rosamond_, and that Steele had interests in the
playhouse. It was useless at that particular moment to champion the cause
of English opera, for England happened to possess not a single composer who
was equal to the task of writing one.

The opera season came to an end in June, and Handel left London for
Germany. He did not go straight back to Hanover, but stayed at Düsseldorf
again, where the Elector was evidently desirous of keeping him as long as
possible, for the Elector himself wrote more than once to Hanover to make
excuses for Handel's prolonged absence from his official duties. Handel may
well have felt that Hanover was a dull place as compared with London. There
was no opera, and his chief function was to compose Italian chamber duets
for the Princess Caroline of Ansbach; afterwards Queen of England. But
he may well have taken pleasure in her service, for she was an excellent
musician and no mean singer. In November 1711 Handel paid a visit to Halle,
in order to stand godfather to his niece, Johanna Friderica Michaelsen, the
daughter of his surviving sister, who eventually inherited the bulk of his
fortune. Some biographers have stated that Handel had already revisited his
birthplace in 1710 before going to London. Mainwaring is their authority
for this, but Mainwaring habitually confused dates and more probably
referred to the visit of 1711, for which we have the certain evidence of
Friderica Michaelsen's baptismal register. It is clear that the alleged
visit of 1710 was suggested merely by a desire to make the most of Handel's
affection for his mother, which Mainwaring had already emphasised.
Mainwaring, however, went beyond the truth in saying that she had become
blind; she did eventually lose her sight, but not until some twenty years
later.

Handel appears to have remained at Hanover until the autumn of 1712, when
he obtained permission to go to London again "on condition that he engaged
to return within a reasonable time" (Mainwaring). What period was to be
considered reasonable we do not know. Handel had certainly been planning
this London visit for some time, as he was corresponding with friends in
England, and was also taking some trouble to improve his knowledge of the
English language. It is not surprising that he hankered after London, for
London offered him a society which bore more resemblance to the world which
he had known at Rome. The tradition of Italian culture had for generations
been more firmly implanted in England than anywhere in Germany, except
perhaps in Vienna, and, since those three years in Italy, Handel's musical
outlook had become completely Italian, as his music shows. The few attempts
which he made at German Church music present a curious contrast of style;
one could hardly believe them to be the work of that Handel whom we have
adopted as our own. German music at that date was provincial; Italian music
was the music of the great world, because it was the music of the theatre.
It was to the theatre that Handel looked forward, and London had what even
Rome had not--an opera, and an Italian opera. The success of _Rinaldo_
had shown him that London was the place where he might launch out into a
triumphal career as a composer for the stage.



CHAPTER III

Second visit to London--Italian opera--George I and the _Water
Music_--visit to Germany--Canons and the Duke of Chandos--establishment of
the Royal Academy of Music.


For the greater part of the nineteenth century the Handelian type of opera
was the laughingstock of musical critics; they wondered how any audiences
could have endured to sit through it, and why the fashionable society of
London should have neglected native music for what Dr. Johnson defined as
"an exotic and irrational entertainment." The modern reader's impression
of an Italian opera of Handel's days is a story about some ancient or
mediaeval hero whose very name is often to most people unknown; if he
happens to be someone as famous as Julius Caesar, the familiar episodes
of his life are sacrificed to some imaginary and complicated intrigue
presented in the form of long and elaborate songs, thinly accompanied, and
separated by stretches of dreary recitative. But in those days persons of
culture, in England as well as in Italy, were perhaps more interested in
ancient history and in the history of the later Roman Empire than they are
now; it is significant that Gibbon's _Decline and Fall_ made its appearance
just when the fashion for operas on subjects which might have been taken
from its pages was coming to an end.

The conventional treatment of those subjects, which makes all the operas
seem exactly alike, was the result of a certain literary reform which had
tended to standardise opera libretti under the influence of Racine, and
it was really a movement towards dignity and dramatic unity after
the monstrous confusion of the earlier Venetian operas. As to the
conventionality of the music, and its forms of air and recitative, it can
only be said that all serious Italian music was written in these forms; it
was simply the normal musical style of the period, and must have been as
natural to its own audiences as the style of Puccini or Richard Strauss at
the present day. Handelian opera has often been described as a concert
in costume, and Dr. Burney, writing as late as 1789, both admits this
description and defends it.

"An opera, at the worst, is still better than a concert merely for the ear,
or a pantomime entertainment for the eye. Supposing the articulation to be
wholly unintelligible, we have an excellent union of melody and harmony,
vocal as well as instrumental, for the ear. And, according to Sir Richard
Steele's account of Nicolini's action, 'it was so significant, that a deaf
man might go along with him in the sense of the part he acted.'

"No one will dispute but that understanding Italian would render our
entertainment at an opera more rational and more complete; but without that
advantage, let it be remembered by the lovers of Music, that an opera is
the _completest concert_ to which they can go; with this advantage over
those in still life, that to the most perfect singing, and effects of a
powerful and well-disciplined band, are frequently added excellent acting,
splendid scenes and decorations, with such dancing as a playhouse, from its
inferior prices, is seldom able to furnish."

Orchestral concerts in those days did not exist; concerts of any kind were
rare, and the best were to be heard in that historic room over Thomas
Britton's small coal shop, in Clerkenwell, where Handel himself sometimes
played on a chamber-organ for the genuine musical enthusiasts of London
society. It was no wonder that Italian opera became fashionable. Italian
singers have always been unrivalled in popular favour, and in Handel's days
they were not only something new to England, but were the exponents of a
vocal art which admittedly has never been surpassed. The theatre was new
and sumptuous; society was wealthy and at the same time exclusive; at the
opera the great world met together as in a sort of club. People went to
talk and to be seen as well as to see and hear; they do so in certain
opera-houses still. And the Queen's Theatre in the Haymarket possessed the
greatest opera-composer living, a greater even than Scarlatti himself.

It was a period when there was still a considerable tradition of
musicianship among the amateurs of English society. Old Countess Granville,
known to her younger relatives as "the Dragon," who had lived all through
the age of Locke and Purcell, wrote, at the age of eighty, to her cousin
Mrs. Pendarves--Handel's child friend Mary Granville--in 1734: "There is,
I think, no accomplishment so great for a lady as music, for it tunes
the mind." There were plenty of people in the great houses capable
of appreciating the merits of Handel, or at any rate of constituting
themselves his enemies.

Handel must have arrived in England at least as early as the beginning of
October 1712, for the manuscript of _Il Pastor Fido_, the first new opera
which he produced, is dated, at the end, "Londres, ce 24 Octobre." The
opera-house was now under the management of Owen MacSwiney, who seems to
have been both incompetent and unreliable. _Il Pastor Fido_ did not attract
the public, and was withdrawn after six performances, but Handel soon had
another opera ready to take its place. _Teseo_ was finished on December
19, and brought out on January 10, 1713; it was a romantic-heroic opera,
closely modelled on _Rinaldo_, with an abundance of scenic effects. After
the second performance MacSwiney disappeared, leaving the singers unpaid as
well as the scene-painters and costume-makers. The company carried on the
season undeterred, and the management was taken over by Heidegger. Handel's
opera was performed twelve times--on the last night for the composer's
benefit; between the acts he gave a performance himself on the harpsichord.

For the moment, however, the operatic situation was not encouraging, and
Handel turned his thoughts in other directions. He had stayed first at
the London house of a Mr. Andrews of Barn Elms in Surrey, but he soon
transferred himself to the house of Lord Burlington in Piccadilly. Lord
Burlington was only seventeen years of age, but he and his mother made
Burlington House an artistic and literary centre comparable with the
palaces of Cardinal Ottoboni and Prince Ruspoli at Rome. As the libretto of
_Teseo_ is dedicated to him, he must have taken Handel under his patronage
soon after his arrival in England, but the precise date at which Handel
went to live with him is uncertain. According to Hawkins, he stayed at
Burlington House for three years, meeting Pope, Gay, and Dr. Arbuthnot, as
well as many other "men of the first eminence for genius." But Gay does not
seem to have met Lord Burlington until 1715, and Pope mentions him first
in 1718. It is thought that Handel's little opera, _Silla_, may have been
written for a private performance at Burlington House in 1714, and the
dedication of _Amadigi_, Handel's next opera (1715), indicates that the
music was composed within his patron's own walls.

One of Handel's favourite haunts in London was St. Paul's Cathedral, where
Brind the organist often persuaded him to play the organ after evening
service, to the great delight of the congregation. He appears to have
made Brind's acquaintance first through young Maurice Greene, then aged
seventeen, who had been a chorister of St. Paul's, and, after his voice
broke in 1710, was articled to Brind as a pupil. After service was over,
Handel, Greene, and some of the members of the choir would repair to
the Queen's Arms Tavern close by for an evening of music and musical
conversation.

This friendly association with St. Paul's was no doubt of great value to
Handel in his next musical undertakings--the _Birthday Ode_ for Queen
Anne, and the _Te Deum_ which celebrated the Peace of Utrecht in 1713.
The Queen's patronage may very likely have been obtained for him by Lady
Burlington, as she was one of the Ladies of the Bedchamber. These two
works are important landmarks in Handel's career, as they were his first
compositions to English words, and his first compositions for English
ceremonial occasions. They marked him out as the natural successor to
Purcell, and it is evident that in each case he took Purcell's similar
composition as his model. Up till now he had been a foreigner engaged to
provide Italian opera for the amusement of fashionable society; with the
_Birthday Ode_ he became a court musician to the Queen of England, and with
the _Te Deum_ his music entered St. Paul's.

The practical result of the _Ode_ was a pension of £200 a year conferred
on him by Queen Anne. It is clear that he now regarded England as his
permanent home, regardless of the fact that he was officially the servant
of the Elector of Hanover and had undertaken to return thither "within a
reasonable time." But on August 1, 1714, the Queen died, and the Elector
was proclaimed King of England. When George I came over to his new country,
Handel did not dare to show himself at court, and all efforts on the part
of his friends to effect a reconciliation with the King were in vain. The
King went to see his new opera, _Amadigi_, which came out late in the
season of 1715, but refused to pardon him, until Handel's old Venetian
acquaintance, Baron Kielmansegge, now Master of the Horse, devised an
ingenious expedient for surprising the King into clemency.

One of the favourite amusements of London society was to make up a
water-party on the Thames, with a band of musicians in attendance. Mrs.
Pendarves describes a party of this kind in July 1722; they rowed up to
Richmond, where they had supper, and "were entertained all the time by very
good music [for wind instruments] in another barge." Baron Kielmansegge
arranged that the King should go for an excursion of this kind, and that,
without his knowledge, Handel should conduct appropriate music of his own
in a barge that followed the King's. As the Baron was often in charge of
the music for such occasions, this can have been a matter of no great
difficulty; in any case it achieved the desired result. The King was
enchanted with the music, and restored Handel to favour. As Mainwaring
tells this story just before speaking of _Amadigi_, it has generally been
assumed that this episode took place in the summer of 1715, but more
recently it has been ascribed to 1717, on the strength of a long account of
a royal water-party, with music by Handel, given in the _Daily Courant_,
a newspaper of the period. This account was copied by the Envoy of
Brandenburg at the court of St. James's and despatched by him to Berlin;
the discovery of this document has led certain writers to cast doubt on
Mainwaring's story. Streatfeild is probably right in suggesting that
Mainwaring's story refers to an earlier water-party, and that Handel
contributed music frequently for such occasions. He also points out that
the celebrated _Water Music_ was not published until 1740, and that it may
quite well have been collected from various aquatic programmes.

Hawkins relates the story of the _Water Music_, evidently copying from
Mainwaring; but Hawkins had known Handel personally, and had been supplied
by him with certain reminiscences, one of which was unknown to Mainwaring.
According to this anecdote, recorded by Hawkins, the reconciliation with
George I was due to the violinist Geminiani, who had composed a set of
sonatas dedicated to Baron Kielmansegge; Geminiani was a notoriously
difficult player to accompany, and insisted on Handel, and no other, taking
the harpsichord when he went to play the sonatas to the King.

Mr. Flower, in his life of Handel, refuses all credit to Mainwaring's
well-known tale, and takes the view that the King never had any quarrel
with Handel at all. In any case it seems certain that he confirmed the
pension granted to him by Queen Anne, and added a further £200 a year of
his own. A few years later, Handel received yet another £200 a year--from
Caroline of Ansbach, now Princess of Wales, for teaching her daughters the
harpsichord, so that he enjoyed a settled income of £600 a year for the
rest of his life.

_Amadigi_, produced May 25, 1715, did not have many performances, as the
season ended on July 9, but it attracted considerable attention, partly
because that old favourite, Nicolini, sang in it again, and also on account
of its elaborate staging. "There is more enchantment and machinery in this
opera," says Dr. Burney, "than I have ever found to be announced in any
other musical drama performed in England."

During the following season, which did not begin until February 1716, both
_Rinaldo_ and _Amadigi_ were revived, but Handel produced no new opera. The
King seems to have wished to see Nicolini in his older parts; _Pyrrhus and
Demetrius_ was revived, as well as other operas of the days before Handel's
first arrival in England. In July, at the end of the season, George I
returned to Hanover, where he remained until the end of the year. Handel
accompanied him, but seems to have had freedom to travel, for he visited
Hamburg, where he avoided meeting his old friend Mattheson, though he
corresponded with him from a safe distance. He also went to Halle, where
his mother was still living; Zachow, however, was dead, and had left his
widow in straitened circumstances, with an idle and intemperate son. Handel
helped the widow, and continued to send her money in later years, but he
eventually came to the conclusion that it was useless to do anything for
the son. From Halle he went on to Ansbach, no doubt on some commission
from the Princess of Wales. At Ansbach he found an old friend from the
University of Halle, Johann Christoph Schmidt, who was established in a
woollen business. Although Schmidt was married and had a family, he was
persuaded by Handel to leave these behind at Ansbach and to travel with
him to London, where he spent the rest of his life as Handel's faithful
secretary and copyist. His son came over later on, and, after Handel had
provided for his education, assisted his father in looking after Handel
during his old age.

During these six months in Germany, Handel reverted for a moment to German
music; he set what is known as the _Brockes Passion_, a sacred cantata
in verse by the Hamburg poet Brockes, which had already been set once
by Keiser. Later on it was set to music again by two of Handel's former
friends, first by Telemann, and then by Mattheson. Little is known about
the composition of this work; Handel apparently had a copy made after his
return to England and sent this to Mattheson, and it was performed at
Hamburg in 1717. Handel does not seem to have had it performed in England;
he used up the music afterwards for other works. Chrysander attributed to
1716 a set of nine German songs with violin _obbligato_ to semi-sacred
words by Brockes; but there is some difficulty about accepting this date,
for, although eight of the poems had already been printed by Brockes, there
is one which is found only in the second edition of the book, printed in
1724.

The King came back to London in January 1717, and it is supposed that
Handel came with him. The opera was on the verge of collapse. _Rinaldo_ and
_Amadigi_ were once more revived for Nicolini, but Handel contributed no
new work, and, after the season came to an end in July, there was no more
Italian opera in London until 1720. It was during this period that Handel
became musical director to the Duke of Chandos, for whom he composed works
of a character new both to England and to himself.

James Brydges, first Duke of Chandos, had built himself an Italian palace
at Canons, near Edgware, in which he must have outdone even the magnificent
Lord Burlington in sumptuousness and ostentation. Like a German princeling,
he kept his choir and his band of musicians, though there seems to be no
evidence that he was himself genuinely musical. The chapel of the house, a
florid Italian baroque building with frescoes in the appropriate style by
Italian painters, was opened in 1720, and the anthem for the occasion
was no doubt one of Handel's. It is not known what music of Handel's was
performed at the Duke's private concerts, but for the services of the
chapel he composed the famous _Chandos Te Deum_ and the twelve _Chandos
Anthems_. Here again Purcell was his model, but the style was Handel's
own, a style indeed so appropriate to the formal stateliness of the Duke's
establishment that these works have never become part of the ordinary
cathedral repertory. It was to Purcell, and to some extent to Scarlatti
too, that Handel owed the general plan of the anthems with their orchestral
accompaniments, but even Purcell's anthems with orchestra had by that time
been found too elaborate for general use.

To the Chandos period belongs also a work which is still one of Handel's
most popular compositions, the English _Acis and Galatea_, to words by John
Gay. It was not a revision of the _serenata_ which he wrote at Naples, but
an entirely new work. More important as a landmark in Handel's development
is the masque of _Esther_, originally called _Haman and Mordecai_. About
the early history of these works little is known; both were intended to be
acted on the stage, and they were very probably performed in this way at
Canons. The words of _Esther_ were adapted from Racine's play of the same
name, and it has been suggested that Pope was the author.

Handel's residence at Canons gave rise to two legends about him which
are still so often repeated that their absurdity must be mentioned here,
although they have been known for many years to be baseless. One is
perpetuated by an inscription on the organ in the church at Whitchurch,
to the effect that Handel composed the oratorio of _Esther_ on this
instrument. Handel was never organist at Whitchurch; the church existed in
his day, but it was an entirely separate building from the private chapel
of the Duke of Chandos which was pulled down with the house. The organ of
that chapel is now at Gosport. It need hardly be said that in any case it
was not Handel's practice to compose his works on an organ. The other, and
even more popular, legend is that of "The Harmonious Blacksmith." It was
during the Canons period that Handel published his _Suites de Pièces pour
le Clavecin_ (1720) which had probably been composed for the daughters
of the Princess of Wales, and one of these suites contains the air and
variations known by that familiar title. But the air was never called by
this name before 1820; about that time a young music-seller at Bath, who
had previously been a blacksmith's apprentice, earned the nickname of "the
harmonious blacksmith" because he was always singing that particular tune.
Somehow the name got transferred from the singer to the song, and in 1835
the story of Handel's having been inspired to compose the tune after
hearing a blacksmith at Edgware produce musical notes from his anvil was
first put into print in a letter to _The Times_. Not long afterwards an
imaginary blacksmith of Edgware was invented, and his alleged anvil sold by
auction.

Whether the air is Handel's own composition at all is a matter of
uncertainty; there would be nothing in the least unusual about any composer
taking another man's air as a theme for variations, and it has been
suggested, with some plausibility, that the tune is that of an old French
song.

On August 8, 1718, Handel's sister Dorothea Sophia died of consumption
at Halle. She was not more than thirty years of age; the other sister,
Johanna, had died in 1709. The sermon preached at Dorothea's funeral on
August 11, 1718, has been preserved, and tells us that one of her favourite
texts from the Bible, which she was often in the habit of quoting, was,
"I know that my Redeemer liveth." Chrysander suggested, and we may well
believe, that the setting of these words in _Messiah_, given to a female
voice, owed its inspiration to the memory of Dorothea Sophia. Handel was
evidently much attached to her. To attend her funeral was impossible, and
it was some months before Handel could visit Halle again; but on February
20, 1719, he wrote a letter to his brother-in-law, thanking him for all the
kindness which he had shown to his sister, and promising to come to Halle
as soon as his engagements permitted.

Handel's inability to leave London before February 1719 was due to the fact
that a new scheme for the promotion of opera in London was on foot. The
first idea was probably suggested in the circle of the Duke of Chandos
towards the end of 1718. It was the moment of the South Sea Bubble, and
speculation had become the universal fashion. To revive the Italian opera a
company was formed among members of the nobility; a capital of £50,000 was
raised in shares of £100 each, and the King himself contributed £1,000.
The new venture was called the Royal Academy of Music, in imitation of
the _Académie Royale de Musique_, under which name the Paris opera was
officially known. The French designation was obviously suggested by the
Italian "academies," or literary and musical societies of the period; the
expression _accademia di musica_ is still occasionally used in Italy to
signify a concert. The directors engaged Nicolo Haym and Paolo Rolli as
poets to provide libretti; for the music they naturally secured Handel, but
also invited Buononcini over from Rome, and Attilio Ariosti from Berlin.
Handel was sent at once to Dresden to select singers; on February 21 he is
stated to have left London for that purpose, but it is possible that he may
actually have started later, for in his letter to his brother-in-law, dated
February 20, he says, "I beg you will not judge of my desire to see you by
the delay of my departure, for to my great regret I find myself detained
here by important business on which I may say my fortune depends, and it
has dragged on longer than I expected.... I hope I shall be at the end of
it in a month from now."

Handel's exact itinerary is difficult to establish. We know that he went to
Düsseldorf, where he engaged the singer Baldassari, but whether this was on
the outward journey or later in the year is uncertain. From the letter to
Michaelsen we should imagine that he went to Halle as soon as possible;
the only authentic document which gives us any date is a letter from Count
Flemming, a court functionary at Dresden, to Melusine von Schulenburg,
daughter of George I's mistress the Duchess of Kendal, who in 1733 married
Lord Chesterfield. Melusine was a pupil of Handel in London. The letter
is dated from Dresden, October 6, 1719; the Count seems to have been much
offended by Handel's behaviour, and suggests that he was "a little mad"
(_un peu fol_). Count Flemming was evidently vain of his own musicianship,
and this made him feel all the more hurt at Handel's obstinate refusal to
accept his invitations. The Electoral Prince of Saxony was married about
this time to an Austrian Archduchess, and the Elector had invited several
of the most famous Italian singers, headed by the composer Lotti, to
Dresden to grace the occasion, hoping to make contracts with them for the
winter season. Handel's object in Dresden was to tempt these celebrities to
London by the offer of English guineas, so that he was naturally obliged to
be extremely discreet in his relations with the officials of the court.

He certainly played the harpsichord at court, for in the following February
(1720) a sum of 100 ducats was paid to him; this however cannot indicate
that he was actually in Dresden at that date, and may easily have been
a delayed payment for earlier services. Handel's negotiations with the
singers were only moderately successful, for he was unable to secure anyone
except Signora Durastanti for the opening of the London opera, even though
that was delayed until April 1720. The others remained at Dresden, but it
is probable that Handel's offers had not been without their attractions,
for the Italian singers at Dresden gave so much trouble to the management
that the Elector suddenly dismissed the whole crew in February 1720; none
of them, however, appeared in London before the autumn season.

Handel's visit to Halle this year is of peculiar interest because of
the attempt made by J. S. Bach to become acquainted with him. Forkel's
biography of Bach (1802) is the only authority for this story. Bach in 1719
was in the service of the Prince of Anhalt-Cöthen; hearing that Handel was
in the neighbourhood, he went over to Halle, a distance of about twenty
miles, but found that Handel had already departed for London. The exact
date of Handel's return is not known, but as there was a meeting of the
shareholders of the opera on November 6, 1719, he may have been in England
by that time. He was not himself one of the actual directors of the
company; the only professional member of the board was Heidegger. Burney
suggests that the affairs of the company were none too prosperous even
before the season began; and it is strange that so long a delay took place
between the first initiation of the scheme in the winter of 1718 and the
first rise of the curtain on April 2, 1720. Handel, at any rate, must have
felt his own position to be secure, for it was about this time that he took
the house at what was then 57 Lower Brook Street, Grosvenor Square, where
he resided for the rest of his life. His name appears first in 1725 among
the ratepayers of the parish of St. George's, Hanover Square, but not long
ago a lead cistern was found in the house, bearing his initials and
the date 1721. On what terms he took the house is not known; it is not
mentioned in his will.



CHAPTER IV

Buononcini--Cuzzoni, Faustina, and Senesino--death of George I--_The
Beggar's Opera_--collapse of the Academy.


The opening performance of the Royal Academy of Music was undistinguished;
it is hard to understand why the noble directors should have begun their
season with _Numitor_, an opera by Porta, a Venetian composer, who is
described in the book of words as "Servant to His Grace the Duke of
Wharton." The Duke of Wharton was not one of the directors. The company,
moreover, was more English than Italian; it included Baldassari,
Durastanti, and a second woman called Galerati, together with Anastasia
Robinson, who afterwards became Countess of Peterborough, Mrs. Turner
Robinson, wife of the organist of Westminster Abbey, Mrs. Dennis, and Mr.
Gordon. _Numitor_ ran for five performances; on April 27 it was succeeded
by Handel's new opera _Radamisto_, in which the same singers took part,
except that Mrs. Dennis did not appear, and Mr. La Garde sang the part of
Farasmane. It is interesting to note that two of the male parts were taken
by women--Radamisto (Durastanti) and Tigrane (Galerati). This looks as if
the management had found it impossible to secure a sufficient number of
Italian _castrati_, who probably demanded exorbitant fees.

_Radamisto_ fared little better than _Numitor_; an enormous crowd came to
the first night, and many were turned away, but the opera was not performed
more than ten times in the season. It was probably above the heads of the
audience, for it is one of Handel's finest works for the stage and a great
advance on any of his previous operas. The only other opera performed was
_Narciso_, by Domenico Scarlatti, which was even less successful than the
others. Chrysander seems to suggest that Scarlatti came to London with the
idea of being a rival to Handel, but it is much more likely that Handel
himself persuaded the Academy to invite the friend of his youth.

The season ended on June 25. _Radamisto_ was printed, and was published by
Handel himself at his own house.

A really serious rival to Handel appeared in the autumn. Lord Burlington
had made the acquaintance in Rome of Giovanni Buononcini, and had heard his
opera _Astarto_. Perhaps he had had enough of Handel after three years of
his close company in Burlington House; in any case he probably thought
himself a better judge of music than Handel. He secured Buononcini for
the Academy, and the season opened on November 19 with _Astarto_. The
dedication to the Earl of Burlington is signed by Paolo Rolli, and no other
author's name is mentioned; but the libretto was really by Apostolo Zeno
(1708). _Astarto_ had ten performances before Christmas, and twenty
afterwards; _Radamisto_ was revived again, but Buononcini established
himself firmly in the favour of a large party. Although Burney speaks very
disparagingly of the music, it is not in the least surprising that the
opera attracted the public. In the first place, it had the advantage of
a magnificent cast of singers--Senesino, Boschi, Berenstadt, Berselli,
Durastanti, Salvai, and Galerati, and this sudden blaze of vocal splendour
would in itself have made the success of any opera, especially of one which
opened the season. Besides, Buononcini's music was pleasing and, after a
far longer stage experience than Handel's, he naturally wrote what singers
enjoyed singing. It must further be added that Buononcini himself was a
striking personality; he had produced operas at Berlin and Vienna, as well
as in various Italian cities, and was a man of the world, accustomed to the
society of courts. Besides, Buononcini was a stranger and a novelty; Handel
was becoming an established institution--indeed, he was well on the way to
becoming an English composer.

The same singers, with the addition of Anastasia Robinson, appeared in the
season of 1721-22. A curious experiment was tried in _Muzio Scevola_,
of which the first act was composed by Filippo Mattei, the second by
Buononcini and the third by Handel, each act having an overture and
concluding chorus. Some biographers have supposed that this was intended to
be a trial of strength, and that the contest resulted in the acknowledged
triumph of Handel; but Burney is probably right in saying that the
collaboration was merely a device to save time in getting the opera ready,
and Burney further points out that Buononcini's position remained as strong
as ever. It was in fact due to Buononcinci's next two operas, and not to
Handel's, that the Academy was able to declare a dividend of seven per
cent.

Handel's _Floridante_ (December 9, 1721) had a moderate success only, and
against Handel's one opera (except for a few performances of _Radamisto_ at
the very beginning of the season) Buononcini had three works to his credit.
The following season brought Handel better fortune, and a decline in the
popularity of Buononcini. In November and December, _Muzio Sceaola_ and
_Floridante_ were revived; on January 12, Handel produced a new opera,
_Ottone_, with a new singer, Francesca Cuzzoni, who eclipsed all the other
women singers completely, until after some years she herself was driven
into eclipse by her historic rival Faustina Bordoni.

_Ottone_ contains one number at least which is familiar to everyone who
knows the name of Handel--the gavotte at the end of the overture. This
spirited piece of music won popularity at the outset, and even to-day it
is probably the best known melody of Handel, after the "Harmonious
Blacksmith." But the real success of _Ottone_ was made by Cuzzoni.

How Cuzzoni came to be engaged at the opera is not clear. Handel cannot
possibly have ever heard her sing; it has been suggested that she was
engaged by Heidegger. She was about twenty-two, and had made her first
appearance at Venice in 1719, after which she sang in various Italian
theatres. She had a voice of extraordinary range, beauty, and agility; she
was equally accomplished both in florid music and in airs of a sustained
and pathetic character, and she was never known to sing out of tune. In
appearance she was anything but attractive: she was short, squat, and
excessively plain-featured. She was uneducated and ill-mannered, impulsive
and quarrelsome. Her arrival in London was delayed for some reason, so
the management sent Sandoni, the second harpsichord-player, to meet
her, probably at Dover. On the way to London they were married; Sandoni
doubtless had an eye to the money which she was to earn.

Her first air in _Ottone_, "Falsa imagine," fixed her reputation as an
expressive and pathetic singer (Burney); she had at first refused to sing
it, on which Handel remarked to her, "Madame, je sais que vous êtes une
véritable diablesse, mais je vous ferai savoir, moi, que je suis Béelzebub,
le chef des diables," seized her round and waist, and threatened to throw
her out of the window. Handel had similar trouble with Gordon, the English
singer who came in for a small part in _Flavio_, which was given on May 14.
Gordon found fault with Handel's method of accompanying, and threatened to
jump on the harpsichord.

"Oh," replied Handel, "let me know when you will do that, and I will
advertise it; for I am sure more people will come to see you jump than to
hear you sing."

Two more operas by Buononcini were given, but his relations with the
Academy were not very cordial. He had been taken up by the Marlborough
family, and was commissioned to compose the funeral anthem for the burial
of the great Duke in June 1722. On May 16, 1723, Mrs. Pendarves informed
her sister that the young Duchess had settled £500 a year for life on
Buononcini, "provided he will _not_ compose any more for the ungrateful
Academy, who do not deserve he should entertain them, since they don't know
how to value his works as they ought." The contract, however, seems not to
have been carried out by the composer. Mrs. Pendarves evidently took the
news from the day's issue of a weekly journal, adding only the name of the
Duchess, which the paper had suppressed. What the paper tells us is that
the Academy had not engaged Buononcini for the coming season.

Senesino and Cuzzoni had made life impossible for the other singers.
Durastanti retired to the Continent; Anastasia Robinson left the stage, and
married her old admirer Lord Peterborough. Senesino and Cuzzoni, however,
were indispensable to the success of the opera, and probably the ridiculous
affectations of the one and the abominable manners of the other were not
without their attraction to a public which could enjoy all the pleasure of
gossiping about them without having to put up with them at close quarters.

The season of 1723 began in November with Buononcini's _Farnace_ and
Handel's _Ottone_; in January 1724 a new opera, _Vespasiano_, by Attilio
Ariosti, was given, and ran for nine successive nights. Ariosti was never
a very troublesome rival to Handel; he was a man of amiable character, and
apparently quite content to remain aloof from the party politics of the
opera-house. On February 14, Handel produced his _Giulio Cesare_, one of
his finest dramatic works; it has been revived with considerable success
in recent years, partly owing to the fact that modern audiences are more
familiar with the episode of Caesar and Cleopatra than with the subjects of
Handel's other operas. _Giulio Cesare_ had the advantage of a strong cast;
Senesino sang the title part, with Berenstadt and Boschi to support him,
and the women included Cuzzoni, as well as Durastanti and Mrs. Robinson,
who had not yet quitted the opera company.

Another masterpiece of Handel's, _Tamerlano_, inaugurated the autumn season
of 1724 in October; in December appeared Ariosti's _Artaserse_, in January
_Giulio Cesare_ held the stage till the production of another Handel opera,
_Rodelinda_, which came out on February 13, and ran for thirteen nights.
Two more operas, by Ariosti and Leonardo Vinci of Naples, completed the
season, but it was evidently Handel who scored the greatest triumphs,
unless the honours should more properly go to Cuzzoni, as Rodelinda, and
her brown silk gown trimmed with silver. All the old ladies, says Burney,
were scandalised with its vulgarity and indecorum, "but the young adopted
it as a fashion so universally, that it seemed a national uniform for youth
and beauty."

Cuzzoni created a further sensation in the summer by giving birth to a
daughter. Mrs. Pendarves made much fun of the event. "It is a mighty
mortification it was not a son. Sons and heirs ought to be out of fashion
when such scrubs shall pretend to be dissatisfied at having a daughter;
'tis pity, indeed, that the noble name and family of the Sandonis should be
extinct! The minute she was brought to bed she sang' La speranza,' a song
in _Otho_."

Revivals of _Rodelinda_ and _Ottone_ took place in the following season,
and, in March 1726, Handel produced _Scipio_, in which the famous march was
heard for the first time on the rise of the curtain.


But Cuzzoni's throne was soon to be sharply contested. Ever since 1723 the
directors of the opera had been trying to secure Faustina Bordoni, and at
last, with a promise of £2,500 for the season (Cuzzoni received £2,000),
they succeeded. Faustina was born of a patrician family at Venice in 1700;
she had been brought up under the protection of Alessandro Marcello,
brother of the well-known composer, and had made her debut at Venice at the
age of sixteen. She sang mostly at Venice for several years, and in 1718
she appeared there in Pollaroli's _Ariodante_, along with Cuzzoni herself.
She sang at Munich in 1723, and in the summer of 1725 she went to Vienna,
where she stayed six months, enjoying an extraordinary success. Nearly
forty years afterwards the Empress Maria Theresa recalled with pride how
she herself, at the age of seven, had sung in an opera with Faustina. At
the end of March 1726 she left Vienna for London, where she made her first
appearance, on May 5, in Handel's new opera _Alessandro_, which had been
designed especially to show off both Faustina and Cuzzoni in parts of
exactly equal importance and difficulty. The immediate result was to divide
London society into two parties: young Lady Burlington and her friends
supported Faustina; Cuzzoni's admirers were led by Lady Pembroke. Lady
Walpole succeeded in getting both to sing at her house; neither would sing
in the presence of the other, but the hostess tactfully managed to draw
first one and then the other out of the music-room while her rival
enchanted the guests. Mrs. Pendarves also contrived to be on good terms
with both. She heard Cuzzoni in November privately, or perhaps at a
rehearsal, and writes, "my senses were ravished with harmony." The opera
was expected to begin about the middle of December, "but I think Faustina
and Madame Sandoni [i.e. Cuzzoni] are not perfectly agreed about their
parts." The opening, however, was delayed by the absence of Senesino, who
had gone to Italy and did not return until fairly late in December.

It was probably owing to this fact that opera in English was offered at the
theatre in Lincoln's Inn Fields, where Marcantonio Buononcini's _Camilla_,
first given in London in 1706, was revived by a mainly English cast of
singers. Mrs. Pendarves went to see it, and her criticisms are significant
for the taste of the time. "I can't say I was much pleased with it, I liked
it for old acquaintance sake, but there is not many of the songs better
than ballads."

Faustina--"the most agreeable creature in the world in company"--dined with
Mrs. Pendarves for a small musical party on January 26. On the previous day
there was the first rehearsal of Handel's _Admeto_. It was the moment, says
Burney, of Handel's greatest prosperity and English patronage. _Admeto_
exhibited conspicuously what Dr. Burney called Handel's "science "; it was
evidently considered to be complicated in style, though at the same time
both pathetic and passionate. "Music," says Burney, "was no longer regarded
as a mere soother of affliction, or incitement to hilarity; it could now
paint the passions in all their various attitudes; and those tones which
said nothing intelligible to the heart began to be thought as; insipid as
those of 'sounding brass or tinkling cymbals.'" These words of Burney make
one realise that Handel's London operas must have affected their audiences
almost in the way in which the operas of Wagner startled the audiences of
the nineteenth century. Handel himself, like Wagner, was steadily
developing his own dramatic powers, and it is important to bear in mind
that it was only those marvellous singers of Handel's day, such as
Senesino, Cuzzoni, Faustina, and Boschi, who could inspire him to the
creation of such music as they only were competent to interpret.

_Admeto_ was received with respect, and although the partisans of the
"rival queens" were noisy in their applause, no actual disturbance took
place until Admeto was followed by Buononcini's _Astyanax_ on May 6. On the
first night of the new opera each side did its best to drown the opposite
party's favourite with a chorus of catcalls. The behaviour of the audience
became more and more disgraceful as the opera was repeated, until on the
last night (June 6), when the Princess of Wales was present, Cuzzoni and
Faustina delighted the sporting instincts of the nobility and gentry of
England by indulging in a free fight on the stage.

Five days later George I died suddenly at Osnabruck. George II was crowned
on October 11, to the music of Handel's Coronation Anthems. The opera
season reopened a month later. Apparently the quarrel between Cuzzoni and
Faustina had been patched up; probably neither of them wanted to lose their
English contracts. They appeared together in Handel's _Riccardo Primo_, and
again in _Siroe_ (February 5, 1728), as well as in _Tolomeo_ (April 30),
but the battle seems to have been won by Cuzzoni, who obtained the more
important parts. We hear of no more disturbances; the fact was that the
audiences were too thin to be noisy.

Mrs. Pendarves, always a devoted supporter of Handel, was pessimistic from
the beginning of the season. "I doubt operas will not survive longer than
this winter," she wrote on November 25; "they are now at their last gasp;
the subscription is expired and nobody will renew it. The directors are
always squabbling, and they have so many divisions among themselves that I
wonder they have not broke up before; Senesino goes away next winter, and I
believe Faustina, so you see harmony is almost out of fashion."_Admeto_ was
revived on June 1, 1728; this was Faustina's last appearance, and the last
night of the Royal Academy of Music. The opera was announced for June 11,
but Faustina declared herself indisposed. The opera was shut up and the
company disbanded. Faustina went with Senesino to Paris, and thence to
Venice, where Cuzzoni also made her appearance, and continued in the local
dialect the campaign of slander against Faustina's alleged immoralities.

There were many reasons for the collapse of the opera. It had been carried
on with reckless extravagance, and the noble directors were in all
probability not very expert men of business. The scandalous behaviour of
all concerned in _Astyanax_ may well have caused a falling-off in the
subscriptions. Mrs. Pendarves, who was a lady of unimpeachable conduct,
continued to go to the opera, but she was a serious lover of music and
a personal friend of Handel. The failure of the Academy is generally
attributed to the success of _The Beggar's Opera_, which had been brought
out at Lincoln's Inn Fields on January 29, 1728, and at once took London
by storm. A letter of Mrs. Pendarves, dated January 19, but evidently
continued later, tells us that she went to a rehearsal of _Siroe_: "I like
it extremely, but the taste of the town is so depraved, that nothing will
be approved of but the burlesque. The _Beggar's Opera_ entirely triumphs
over the Italian one." Even Mrs. Pendarves could not help enjoying it, once
she had seen it.

It is probable that Handel himself had contributed to the downfall of the
Academy. Out of the 487 performances given between 1720 and 1728, Handel's
works obtained 245, Buononcini's 108, and Ariosti's 55. The great singers
had drawn the public to listen to Handel's operas, but it is clear from
many contemporary allusions that Handel's music was too severe to be an
attraction in itself, except to cultivated musicians like Mrs. Pendarves.
The same accusations were made against Handel that were made in later years
against Mozart and Wagner--that his operas were noisy and overloaded with
learned accompaniments. The Italian opera was killed, not so much by the
fact that _The Beggar's Opera_ made its conventions ridiculous (for its
conventions could at that time have been ridiculous only to quite unmusical
people), as by the incontestable attraction of the new work itself. It was
witty and outspoken, with abundance of topical satire; its music consisted
of the tunes that everybody knew, and it presented the public with the
irresistible fascinations of Lavinia Fenton, who was soon to become the
Duchess of Bolton.

Handel may well have resented the success of _The Beggar's Opera_, but
the collapse of the Academy was in reality no great disaster for his own
interests. In the first place, he had done very well out of it from a
financial point of view; the noble directors might have lost their
money, but he had been only their paid servant, in which capacity he had
accumulated enough to invest no less than £10,000 of his own in the next
operatic venture. He obviously realised the strength of the position which
he had built up for himself both as a composer and as a man of business.
The most important result of the Academy's career had been to provide
Handel with the opportunity of consolidating his own style as a composer
of musical drama. Like all the court composers of his age he had provided
whatever his patrons required--chamber music, water music, minuets for
court balls, Church music for royal ceremonial; but the music on which his
own heart was set was that of the theatre.



CHAPTER V

Handel naturalized--partnership with Heidegger--_Esther_--the Opera of
the Nobility--visit to Oxford--opera season at Covent Garden--Charles
Jennens--collapse of both opera-houses.


Handel had by this time definitely decided to make England his home; on
February 13, 1726, he had been naturalised as an English subject. He had
every reason to regard England as the best place in which to live. He
enjoyed the protection of the German court; George II and Queen Caroline
gave him indeed a good deal more encouragement than George I. The
appointments of composer to the Chapel Royal and composer to the court were
purely honorary, but they strengthened his position. As to the opera-house,
he must by now have felt that he was its unquestioned autocrat, and he
could not help being aware that he was without a rival in Europe as far as
the stage was concerned, for old Scarlatti had gone to his grave, and the
younger generation had produced no composer of such outstanding eminence.
And in England music was generously rewarded from a material point of view;
high fees were paid, not only to singers, but to teachers as well, and
England was also one of the few countries where music-printing was a
flourishing business. A good proportion of Handel's savings must have come
from the sale of his published compositions; among Handel's contemporaries
no other composer in Europe had so many of his works printed during his
lifetime. English society seemed always ready to subscribe for a new
musical work, and neither in Paris nor in Amsterdam was music so admirably
engraved as in London.

Encouraged by the Princess Royal, Handel went into partnership with
Heidegger, who had also made his own profits out of the opera, as well as
out of his notorious masquerades; they leased the King's Theatre for a
period of five years. The first thing to do was to secure new singers, and
for this purpose Handel went to Italy, probably in the autumn of 1728.
Heidegger had already tried to bring back Senesino and the two "costly
canary-birds," as Colley Cibber called them, but they had had enough of
London, and probably of Handel too. Little is known of the details of this
Italian journey; it has been said that Handel travelled with Steffani,
but this is impossible, as Steffani died at Frankfurt early in the year.
Mainwaring tells us that, at Rome, Cardinal Colonna invited him to his
palace, but that Handel, hearing that the Pretender was staying there,
prudently declined the invitation. In engaging singers he seems to have
been perhaps more prudent than was desirable, for his new company did not
contain any very distinguished names. In place of Senesino he obtained the
_castrato_ Bernacchi; his new first woman was Signora Strada del Po', who
was a fine singer, but so unattractive in appearance that London nicknamed
her "The Pig." It is interesting to note that he also engaged a tenor,
Annibale Fabri, although in those; days tenors were considered only fit for
old men's parts of minor importance, and at Naples were generally given the
parts of comic old women. Fabri's wife and another woman were announced
as good actresses of male parts. "Fabri has a tenor voice," wrote Mrs.
Pendarves, "sweet, clear and firm, but not strong enough, I doubt, for the
stage. He sings like a gentleman, without making faces, and his manner is
particularly agreeable." Perhaps Handel's friendship with Mrs. Pendarves
had given him a sure insight into the taste of English gentlewomen.

In the summer of 1729 Handel paid a visit to his mother at Halle; she was
then blind and half paralysed. Bach sent his son Friedemann over from
Leipzig to beg Handel to come and see him, as he was himself too ill to
make the journey, but Handel not unnaturally declined. Towards the end of
June he passed through Hanover, and also went to Hamburg, where he engaged
a German bass Riemschneider.

The opera season began on December 2, with Handel's _Lothario_, but it
had only a moderate success. After a few revivals of _Giulio Cesare_, he
brought out a second new opera, _Partenope_, on February 24. Despite its
many beauties, it was even less successful than _Lothario_. Handel's
audience did not go to the theatre to listen to his music; they went to
hear the singers, and Bernacchi, who was no longer a young man, was a poor
substitute for Senesino. Strada was the only member of the company who
interested the audience. For the next season something better had to be
found, and through Francis Colman, the English Envoy at Florence, Senesino
was persuaded to accept 1,400 guineas instead of the 2,000 that he had
received before. He opened the season of 1730 on November 3, with his
former rôle of Scipio. For the moment Handel remained in the background;
the next opera was a _pasticcio_, that is, an opera made up of favourite
songs from various operas stuck into any convenient libretto. On February 2
there came out the new opera of Handel, _Poro_, which turned the tide once
more in the composer's favour. Later on, _Rinaldo_ and _Rodelinda_ were
revived, but the season came to an early end on May 29. For the following
winter some changes were made in the cast. Senesino and Strada were
of course indispensable, and the most important new acquisition was
Montagnana, the bass, for whom Handel was to write some of his most
celebrated songs.

After revivals of _Tamerlano_ and _Admeto_, Handel brought out _Ezio_ on
January 15, 1732; it had only five performances. _Sosarme_ (February 19)
had ten; it is remembered now by the exquisite song, "Rendi 'l sereno al
ciglio," which was sung by Strada. The remainder of the season presented
nothing of any special interest until on the last night Handel offered his
subscribers a new type of entertainment in the shape of _Acis and Galatea_.

On Handel's birthday, February 23, Bernard Gates, the master of the
children of the Chapel Royal, arranged a private performance of _Esther_,
which had been neglected since its first performance at Canons some twelve
years before. Among the boys who sang and acted in the "masque" were Beard,
who afterwards became Handel's favourite tenor, and Randall, eventually
Professor of Music in Cambridge, who took the part of Esther. The
performance was repeated twice before a paying public at the Crown and
Anchor Tavern, where concerts were often held, and on April 20 a rival
organisation advertised a further performance of Esther at the concert-room
in Villiers Street. On this occasion it was described as "an oratorio or
sacred drama," and was evidently sung without action. Princess Anne wished
to see it on the stage of the opera-house but the Bishop of London forbade
a dramatic performance. As the bishop's ban was ultimately the cause of
Handel's turning his attention to oratorio in preference to opera, it has
sometimes been suggested that Handel might have created a new type of
national English opera on biblical subjects if only his lordship had not
interfered. In justice to the bishop it has to be pointed out that his
objection seems to have been raised, not against the dramatic presentation
of Bible stories (for he did not discountenance Gates' performances by the
choristers at the Crown and Anchor), but against their presentation in
a regular theatre by professional opera singers. Such prejudice may be
difficult to understand at the present day, but even well into the middle
of the nineteenth century persons of severe morality regarded the theatre
and all who belonged thereto with stern disapproval, and the notorious
scandals associated with Cuzzoni and Faustina, to say nothing of Heidegger,
were not likely to have washed out the memory of Jeremy Collier's
denunciations.

"The sacred story of _Esther_, an oratorio in English," was accordingly
announced for May 2, with the information that "there will be no acting
on the stage, but the house will be fitted up in a decent manner for the
audience; the Musick [i.e. the orchestra] to be disposed after the manner
of the coronation service." Within a fortnight, Thomas Arne, father of the
composer, advertised a performance of _Acis and Galatea_ at the Little
Theatre in the Haymarket "with all the choruses, scenes, machines, and
other decorations, being the first time it was performed in a theatrical
way." The laws of the time gave no protection to musical and dramatic
copyright. Handel could only reply by giving a performance of the work
himself; his one advantage was that as composer he could remodel the score
and make several new additions to it. But he did not have the work acted;
it was sung in costume with a background of appropriate scenery. Even in
this form it obtained four performances; Senesino and Strada took part in
it, singing in English.

Such a setting may appear strange to modern readers, but, even if it was
a new idea for England at the time, it was a fairly well established
tradition on the Continent, and Handel may very likely have seen a similar
entertainment in Italy. The subscribers to the opera would see little in
it that was incongruous. They were accustomed to see singers in all operas
wearing dresses that differed very little from their own, and scenery which
recalled their own Italianate gardens and palaces; Handelian opera, in any
case, left little scope for what most people now call acting. At the same
time we may be pretty sure that concert singers, especially Italians,
allowed themselves far more liberty of spontaneous expressive movement than
Victorian oratorio singers holding their music-books in front of them by
traditional convention.

Four more performances of _Acis and Galatea_ were given at the opera-house
in December 1732; Handel evidently saw that it would be a sure attraction.
_Alessandro_ and _Tolomeo_ were revived, and on January 23 he produced a
new opera, _Orlando_, which had ten performances, with six more later in
the season. _Orlando_ is one of Handel's most original operas; he seems
always to have derived a peculiar inspiration from the poems of Tasso and
Ariosto, as in the case of _Rinaldo_. _Orlando_ is a thoroughly romantic
opera--Chrysander even compares it with those of Weber--full of episodes of
madness and magic; it is so far removed from the ordinary conventions of
its time that we can well imagine it to have startled both its audiences
and its singers.

The affairs of the opera-house were going badly, and it is probable that
there were considerable dissension within its walls. It is certain that
relations between Handel and Senesino were becoming more and more strained;
_Orlando_ was the last opera of Handel's in which he sang. It seems fairly
certain also that Heidegger was none too loyal as a partner. Heidegger was
in a strong position, for he was the actual owner of the stock of scenery
and other appurtenances taken over from the original Academy. He seems to
have lent the theatre to Buononcini for some performances of _Griselda_,
and, when the lease came to an end, it was Heidegger who left Handel in the
lurch and allowed a rival organisation to secure it.

There was, too, a further reason for the general hostility against Handel.
Encouraged by the success of _Acis and Galatea_, he had composed a new
oratorio, _Deborah_, which was performed at the opera-house on March 17,
by the King's command. For this work prices were doubled; tickets were a
guinea each, and admission to the gallery half a guinea, instead of five
shillings. At the second performance the normal prices were charged. The
raising of prices for an extraordinary performance might well seem nothing
unreasonable; but the event came exactly at the moment of the popular
outcry against Walpole's Excise Bill, and the satirists of the day seized
the opportunity of comparing Handel with Walpole.

Handel was now nearly fifty years of age. In the days of _Rinaldo_ he had
been a young man of twenty-five, making friends with those of his own age
or younger, a new attraction with all the fascination of genius and youth.
In the course of a generation he had become an established institution. He
had made a success; he had amassed a fortune; he had secured to himself the
unshaken confidence of the court; but he had inevitably made enemies. The
native musicians were very naturally jealous of the foreigner, and the
numerous foreign musicians in London jealous of one who made more money out
of the extravagant English than they did themselves. The Italian singers
found him tyrannical, and society very probably resented his rough manners.
Society had engaged him to provide music for their entertainment, and he
took up the unheard-of attitude of expecting society to pay its guineas
for whatever music he chose to write. England, one might almost say, had
spoiled him, for it was only in England that "The Great Bear," as he was
sometimes called, could go his own way--a musician behaving with the
complete disregard of public opinion which was considered the exclusive
privilege of the English nobility. In any other country he would have
been forced either to pander to the taste of a court or to relapse into
obscurity. It was not until after the French Revolution that a Beethoven
could display the independence of Handel in the aristocratic environment of
Vienna.

The English nobility, having set Handel this example, claimed their own
rights, and organised a rival opera-house at Lincoln's Inn Fields. They had
no difficulty in seducing, first Senesino, then Montagnana, and finally
Heidegger. Only Strada remained faithful to Handel. Buononcini having lost
their favour, they engaged as composer the Neapolitan Nicolo Porpora,
famous then as a great trainer of singers, and still more famous in later
years as the teacher of Haydn. If Handel had the King and Queen on his
side, the nobility could count on the support of Frederick Prince of Wales,
who was immensely popular throughout the country and was on the worst
possible terms with his royal parents. The Opera of the Nobility, as the
new syndicate was called, was making its plans in good time, directly after
the end of Handel's season.

In July 1733, Handel was invited to Oxford for a series of performances
of his works, and it was proposed to confer on him the honorary degree of
Doctor of Music. The Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Holmes, was a loyal Hanoverian,
and hoped by honouring Handel to do something to counteract the Jacobite
reputation of the University. _Esther_ and _Deborah_ were performed, as
well as the Utrecht _Te Deum_ and _Jubilate_, and the Coronation Anthems;
Handel further provided a new oratorio, _Athaliah_. The degree he refused
to accept, for what reason has never been explained. Various suggestions
have been offered. The Abbé Prevost, who was in England at the time, says
that he refused the degree out of modesty; later biographers have differed
in their views as to whether modesty was one of Handel's characteristics.
Others have supposed that he refused to pay the fee of £100 that was
demanded, but it is inconceivable that a fee should have been demanded
for an honorary degree, although it would naturally have been paid by
candidates who took the degree in the normal way. The concerts were
attended by large audiences, many music lovers coming over from Eton and
Cambridge, although there was considerable resentment at the price of
admission--five shillings, a small amount compared with Handel's London
charges. This "Handel Festival" at Oxford is significant, for it shows
that in the space of no more than a year oratorio had begun to make a wide
appeal, even outside London, although it was a form of composition that was
new to English audiences. _Esther_, considered as a masque to be acted,
might be said to continue the English traditions of the previous century,
but there was no precedent in England for anything like _Esther_ in concert
form. The only English works which offered anything remotely like oratorio
were the odes of Purcell and Blow for the musicians' festivals on St.
Cecilia's Day, apart from the greater services and anthems of Purcell,
which were composed, not for entertainment, but for liturgical use.

After the Oxford concerts, Handel and Schmidt went to Italy to look for
singers. They heard Farinelli, the most famous _castrato_ of the century,
but did not engage him; perhaps his demands were too high. The _castrato_
whom they did engage was Carestini, who, though less celebrated, was at any
rate a singularly artistic singer. Durastanti came back, and, in place of
Montagnana, Handel contented himself with Waltz, a German, who is often
described as having been Handel's cook. Burney, at any rate, recorded that
he was said to have filled this office, but Burney remembered him chiefly
as a popular comic singer. He had sung Polyphemus in Arne's pirated
performance of _Acis and Galatea_, and owing to the defection of
Montagnana, took his place in _Athaliah_ at Oxford. He had "a coarse figure
and a still coarser voice" (Burney).

Handel opened his season on October 30, 1733. He had already finished the
composition of a new opera, _Ariadne_, but it was not brought out until
January 26, 1734. The reason, no doubt, was that an opera on the same
subject by Porpora was produced by the Opera of the Nobility on December
29. Handel would no doubt have heard that it was in rehearsal, and
have postponed his own production until he could see how Porpora's was
succeeding. The two operas obtained the same number of performances, but
Handel's theatre was seldom full, and many opera-goers were dissatisfied at
his giving them oratorios, such as _Deborah_ and _Acis_, on opera nights;
these, however, seem to have been commanded by the King, and that in itself
would make them all the more unpopular.

In March the Princess Royal was married to the Prince of Orange, and Handel
was commissioned to write a wedding anthem. He also provided a secular
entertainment in the shape of _Parnaso in festa_, described as a
_serenata_. It was not unlike a masque; Apollo and the Muses appeared in
costume on Mount Parnassus, but apparently there was no acting. The music
was adapted from _Athaliah_, which, so far, had only been heard at Oxford.
Oratorio was also attempted by Handel's rival; Mrs. Pendarves heard a work
of his at Lincoln's Inn Fields in March. "It is a fine solemn piece of
music," she wrote, "but I confess I think the subject too solemn for a
theatre. To have words of piety made use of only to introduce good music,
is reversing what it ought to be, and most of the people that hear the
oratorio make no reflection on the meaning of the words, though God is
addressed in the most solemn manner." Needless to say, it was "not equal
to Mr. Handel's oratorio of Esther or Deborah." Mrs. Pendarves was at this
time a near neighbour of Handel's in Lower Brook Street; one of her letters
describes a small musical party (her musical parties were always small) a
month later. Apparently there were not more than ten guests, including Lord
Shaftesbury, who begged another guest to bring him, and was admitted as
being "a profess'd friend of Mr. Handel"; the only professional musicians
present were Handel and Strada. "I never was so well entertained at an
opera! Mr. Handel was in the best humour in the world, and played lessons
and accompanied Strada and all the ladies that sung from seven o' the clock
till eleven." In such company Handel could evidently be more agreeable than
on the stage at rehearsals, and it is interesting to note that the amateurs
had no timidity about singing before Strada, and that Handel was willing to
accompany all of them alike.

In July 1734, Handel's lease of the King's Theatre came to an end, and he
found the theatre let at once by some means to his rivals, the Opera of the
Nobility. He therefore entered into an arrangement with Rich for the use of
his new theatre in Covent Garden, but his autumn season actually opened at
Lincoln's Inn Fields on October 5. The probable reason for this was that
the Princess Anne was spending the summer in England and wished to hear
some of Handel's operas. She was a remarkably gifted musician, and Handel
considered her to be the best of his pupils; she not only sang and played
the harpsichord well, but was thoroughly grounded in the theoretical side
of music and quite capable of composing a fugue, according to a Dutch
musician who became acquainted with her after her marriage. She came to
England on July 2 for a long stay, and at once persuaded Handel to give
three additional performances of _Il Pastor Fido_, which he had revived
that season. _Pastor Fido_ and _Ariadne_ were given again for her in
October; probably Covent Garden was not quite ready for performances.
Princess Anne left England on October 21, and her last words at parting
were to beg Lord Hervey to do all he could to help Handel.

The chief attraction to the public at Covent Garden was probably not Handel
but Mlle Sallé, a French dancer who had been engaged by Rich. The first
performance at the new theatre was a ballet, _Terpsichore_, in order that
she might inaugurate the season. _Terpsichore_, which includes songs and a
chorus, served as prologue to _Il Pastor Fido_. The next opera was _Oreste,
a pasticcio_ made up by Handel himself from his own works; on January 8,
1735, he produced his Ariodante, an opera over which he had spent the
unusually long time of ten weeks. The score was begun on August 12 and
finished on October 24. The story is taken from Ariosto, and, as with
Orlando, Handel found that it afforded opportunities for his peculiar vein
of romanticism. On April 16 he followed it up with Alcina, again on a
subject from Ariosto, and one of even more romantic character. Ariosto's
enchantress Alcina was the model for Tasso's better-known Armida, who
provided both Lulli and Gluck with one of their most dramatic heroines, and
Burney says, with some justice, that Handel's Alcina gave birth to all the
Armidas and Rinaldos of modern times. Both Ariodante and Alcina contained a
large amount of ballet music, and the dances in Alcina, intermingled
with choruses in the French manner, are among Handel's most attractive
compositions.

Mrs. Pendarves, after the rehearsal of Alcina, described Handel as himself
"a necromancer in the midst of his own enchantments," but he could not
prevail against the enchantments of Farinelli, who had been engaged by the
rival opera company. There could be no competing against a combination that
included along with him Senesino, Cuzzoni, and Montagnana. The one powerful
counter-attraction that Handel could offer was oratorio on Wednesdays and
Fridays in Lent, when operas were not allowed to be given. Porpora's David,
which the rival management put on, had no chance against Esther, Deborah,
and Athaliah. Alcina carried the Opera on to the end of the season, the
well-known air "Verdi prati," which Carestini had at first refused to
sing, being encored at every performance. Handel's alleged angry retort to
Carestini in comical broken English has been often quoted from Burney; but
Schoelcher very sensibly observed that Handel was pretty certain to have
conversed with Carestini in Italian.

The newspapers informed the world in May that Handel was going to spend the
summer in Germany. His health had been seriously undermined, and it
may well have been possible that he had talked of taking a cure at
Aix-la-Chapelle; but on this occasion he went no farther than Tunbridge
Wells. It was probably in the earlier part of 1735 that he made the
acquaintance of Charles Jennens, a young man who was eventually to play a
great part in his life, for on July 28 he wrote to Jennens to say that he
was just starting for Tunbridge.

The letter is so short that it may be quoted here in full, for it gives us
a great deal of interesting information.

  London,
  _July 28, 1735_.
  Sir,

  I received your very agreeable letter with
  the enclosed Oratorio. I am just going to Tunbridge;
  yet what I could read of it in haste,
  gave me a great deal of satisfaction. I shall
  have more leisure time there to read it with all
  the attention it deserves.

  There is no certainty of any Scheme for
  next Season, but it is probable that something
  or other may be done, of which I shall take
  the liberty to give you notice, being extremely
  obliged to you for the generous concern you
  show upon this account.

  The Opera of Alcina is a writing out, and
  shall be sent according to your direction. It is
  always a great pleasure to me if I have an
  opportunity to show the sincere respect with
  which I have the honour to be,

  Sir,
  &c., &c.,

  GEORGE FRIDERIC HANDEL.

Jennens was a conspicuous figure in the London society of his day. At the
time of this correspondence he was thirty-five, and unmarried; he
had inherited vast wealth in his youth and spent it freely. He was
ostentatious, even for an age when extravagance was fashionable; but
although he was conceited and on occasions foolish, he was certainly
possessed of considerable intellectual gifts, and the things which
interested him most in life were literature, music, and the fine arts. The
letter shows us that he must have admired _Alcina_ sufficiently to ask
the composer for a copy of the score. He also seized the opportunity of
offering him a libretto for a new oratorio. He had a very good opinion of
himself as a poet, and it is possible that he foresaw the importance of the
new type of semi-dramatic entertainment which Handel was creating. There
were plenty of Italian poetasters, even in London itself, who could put
together a conventional opera-book, but English oratorio was still in the
making, and it was not so easy to find a literary framework for it.

In any case, it was evident that Italian opera was a precarious enterprise.
In October the papers again gave out that Handel was going to give
oratorios and concerts at Covent Garden; no operas were announced, and for
the time being Handel appeared to have abandoned opera altogether. He made
no move until Lent 1736, and then brought out _Alexander's Feast_ (February
19), which he had set to music in the previous two months. Those ever
popular favourites _Esther_ and _Acis and Galatea_ followed it, and, as in
the foregoing season, Handel played organ concertos between the acts of
these works. It is evident that as Handel could not secure the great
Italian singers for his oratorios he felt obliged to offer his public some
other display of virtuosity, and his own performance on the organ seems to
have been considered a very powerful attraction.

The marriage of the Prince of Wales to Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha
(April 27, 1736) provided him with unexpected opportunities for coming
before the public. It seems to have been at the desire of the Princess
herself that he undertook a short Italian opera season of eight
performances, which eventually was extended to ten. _Atalanta_, Handel's
new opera for this season, in which the chief singer was Gizziello,
then making his first appearance in England, was composed especially to
celebrate the royal nuptials, and seems to have finally converted the
Prince of Wales to the music of Handel. He now became a regular supporter
of Handel's theatre, with the result that the King promptly withdrew his
patronage, as he refused to be seen in the same house as the Prince.
Encouraged by this sign of princely favour, Handel reopened Covent Garden
in November with a revival of _Alcina_, followed by _Atalanta_. Three more
new operas were ready, or nearly so; Handel seems to have prepared himself
for the winter in better time than usual. But neither _Arminio_ (January
12, 1737), nor _Giustino_ (February 16), nor even _Berenice_, with its
famous minuet (May 18), could save Handel from ruin. The rival opera-house
was in no better case. Handel was obliged to close Covent Garden on June 1,
and the Haymarket followed suit ten days later. Opera at both houses had
been killed, mainly by the folly of party strife.



CHAPTER VI

Bankruptcy and paralysis--visit to Aix-la-Chapelle--the last
operas--Vauxhall Gardens--Handel's "borrowings"--visit to
Ireland--_Messiah_ and other oratorios.


The collapse of the Opera left Handel not only bankrupt, but with seriously
endangered health. In April 1737 it had been announced that he was
"indisposed with the rheumatism," from which he made a slight temporary
recovery; but before the season was over it became clear that he was
suffering from paralysis. "His right arm was become useless to him," says
Mainwaring, "and how greatly his senses were disordered at intervals, for a
long time, appeared from an hundred instances, which are better forgotten
than recorded." With some difficulty his medical advisers persuaded him to
go to the sulphur bath of Aix-la-Chapelle, where, according to Mainwaring,
he submitted to prolonged and drastic treatment. His cure was considered
remarkably rapid, and the nuns (presumably nursing sisters) who heard him
play the organ within a few hours of leaving his bath ascribed it to a
miracle. "Such a conclusion," observes our clerical biographer, "in such
persons was natural enough."

It has been asserted that during his stay at Aix, Handel composed a cantata
for the five-hundredth anniversary of the foundation of Elbing, a town in
East Prussia between Danzig and Königsberg. A German researcher about 1869
appears to have discovered documents at Elbing mentioning the cantata,
with the name of the poet and that of a local singer, Jean du Grain, who
composed the recitatives; Handel "of London" was said to have composed the
choruses. No trace of the music has survived, and there seems to be no
evidence whatever to connect this work with Handel's visit to Aix. Nor is
it possible to suggest any reason why the authorities of this remote place
should have applied to Handel for a composition.

According to Mainwaring, Handel stayed six weeks at Aix; the London papers
announced his return on November 7, 1737. The management of the Opera
had now been taken over by Heidegger, but the death of Queen Caroline on
November 20 caused all theatres to be closed from that date until the end
of December. It was announced in the papers that the Opera would reopen
on January 10 with a new oratorio by Handel, called _Saul_, but this
performance did not take place, and the theatre actually reopened on
January 7 with his new opera _Faramondo_. This opera was the first work
that Handel had undertaken after his return to London, but its composition
was interrupted by that of the Funeral Anthem for the Queen. Although she
died on November 20, Handel did not receive the King's command to write the
anthem until December 7, as George II was strangely undecided in making
arrangements for the funeral. It was finally fixed for December 17, and
a special organ was hurriedly built for it in Henry VII's chapel at
Westminster Abbey. Handel's anthem was performed by 80 singers and 100
instrumentalists. Queen Caroline had been one of his most faithful friends,
and his gratitude and affection for her found utterance in music which
Burney placed "at the head of all his works for expression, harmony and
pleasing effects."

It was at ten at night on Christmas Eve that Handel finished the score of
_Faramondo_; on Boxing Day he began the composition of _Serse_. _Faramondo_
had only six performances, and _Serse_ did not appear on the stage until
April 15, when it ran for five nights only. It is remembered now, if at
all, by the fact that the first song in it is the so-called "celebrated
Largo," but the opera as a whole is of curious interest. "He was neither
in health, prosperity, or spirits," says Burney, "when it was composed;
appearances remain in his foul score [i.e. rough copy] of a mind
disturbed, if not diseased. There are more passages, and even whole pages,
cancelled in this score, than in any one of all his former operas."
_Serse_, it must be explained, is a comic opera, and the only comic opera
that Handel ever wrote. What induced him to attempt this style it is
difficult to conceive. It is of course true that the failure of Handel's
earlier operas was largely due to the success of _The Beggar's
Opera_ (1728), and of other comic entertainments which succeeded
it--_Hurlothrumbo_ (1729), _Pasquin_ (1736) and _The Dragon of Wantley_
(1737). A new type of comic opera had arisen in Italy too, and comic
_intermezzi_ were first seen in Italian grand opera in London in January
1737, although it was not until 1748 that a real company of Italian
comic-opera singers came over to England. But what is more important to
notice is that the whole style of Italian opera was changing during the
second quarter of the century. Handel had continued to develop his own
style, based on the grand manner of old Scarlatti, but Handel's operas were
practically unknown outside London and Hamburg; in Italy, Scarlatti's style
had already become old-fashioned before his death in 1725, and opera was
moving on towards the lighter and flimsier manner of Galuppi, who first
came to London in this year of _Serse_, 1738.

In choosing the libretto of _Serse_, Handel seems to have been making a
desperate attempt to keep up with the taste of the day. Humour he had
in plenty; one has only to recall _Acis and Galatea_. But the humour of
_Serse_, diverting as it is to the modern historical student, is neither
the musical nor the dramatic humour of 1737; the plot bears no resemblance
whatever to the Neapolitan comic operas of Vinci and Pergolesi, but rather
recalls the very early operas, based on Spanish comedies, composed by
Alessandro Scarlatti in the 1680's. _Serse_ was revived a few years ago
in Germany, considerably cut about and reduced to one act, in which
arrangement it had some success; but we can well understand its complete
failure on its first London production.

The only satisfaction which Handel received in that unfortunate season of
1738 was the proceeds of his benefit concert at the Haymarket on March 28,
organised for him by his friends, apparently rather against his own wish.
According to Burney the net receipts were £800; Mainwaring puts the figure
at £1,500. Even if we accept Burney's estimate, the sum is remarkable,
and particularly so in view of the known hostility of a large section
of society towards the composer. It can only be supposed that Handel's
physical and mental collapse had been grave enough to awaken a wide-spread
sense of pity for his misfortunes. Another mark of popular appreciation
was the erection of a statue of Handel, executed by Roubiliac, at Vauxhall
Gardens, in recognition of the pleasure which his music had afforded to the
frequenters of that famous resort. This piece of "laudable idolatry," as
Burney calls it, was thus described by a contemporary journalist: "Mr.
Handel is represented in a loose robe, sweeping the lyre, and listening to
its sounds; which a little boy sculptured at his feet seems to be writing
down on the back of a violon-cello. The whole composition is in an elegant
taste." Commissioned by an impresario who had made a fortune out of the use
of Handel's music, it now appropriately adorns the vestibule of Messrs.
Novello's music-shop in Wardour Street.

Charles Jennens, writing to his cousin Lord Guernsey on September 19, 1738,
remarks that "Mr. Handel's head is more full of maggots than ever." Towards
the end of July he had begun the composition of _Saul_, for which Jennens
had provided the libretto three years before. It is evident that Handel
intended to startle his audiences with his new oratorio scheme. He had
ordered a new organ for the theatre at a cost of £500, constructed so that
he might have a better command of his performers, and he had also acquired
another instrument, which Jennens calls a "Tubalcain"--in other words a set
of bells played from a keyboard--which he intended to use in the scene in
which the Israelites welcome David after his victory over the Philistines.
It is curious that Handel should have dramatised the insanity of Saul just
after he had himself recovered from mental derangement.

No sooner was _Saul_ finished (September 27) than Handel, four days later,
began the composition of _Israel in Egypt_. _Saul_ was first performed on
January 16, 1739, and enjoyed a moderate success, but _Israel_ (April 4)
was a failure, even after it had been shortened and made more attractive by
the insertion of Italian opera songs.

_Israel in Egypt_ is the most conspicuous example of a strange and almost
unaccountable habit which from about this period began to show itself in
Handel's methods of composition--the incorporation of large quantities
of music by other composers. Samuel Wesley was the first person to draw
attention to this practice of Handel's, though only in a private letter of
1808. In 1831 Dr. Crotch, in his professorial lectures at Oxford, named no
less than twenty-nine composers whom Handel had "quoted or copied." The
researches of Chrysander, Dr. Max Seiffert, Ebenezer Prout, and Sedley
Taylor eventually proved beyond dispute that not only _Israel_, but several
other works of Handel were largely made up from the music of other men.

Chrysander maintained that Handel began appropriating other men's ideas
as early as 1707, for not only _Rodrigo_ and _Agrippina_, but also _La
Resurrezione_ and the _Laudate pueri_ show obvious reminiscences of
Keiser's opera _Octavia_ (Hamburg, 1705). These were probably subconscious,
like Handel's reminiscences of Scarlatti and others at this period; they
need not be taken any more seriously than Schubert's frequent reminiscences
of Beethoven. But in _Atalanta_ (1736) and _Giustino_ (1737), Prout
discovered quotations and adaptations several bars long from a _Passion_ by
Graun, which is known to have been composed not many years before. Further
fragments of this _Passion_ were identified by Prout in _Alexander's Feast_
and the _Wedding Anthem_ (1736); _Saul_, like _Israel_, incorporates
several movements from a _Te Deum_ by Urio (_fl_. 1660). From this date
onwards until the end of his career Handel systematically drew upon the
works of other musicians.

There has been much controversy over this question, and many attempts have
been made to explain away Handel's "borrowings" so as to leave no moral
stain on his character, which indeed, by all contemporary accounts, was
scrupulously upright. Sedley Taylor (1906) was certainly anxious to clear
Handel's character, but still more concerned to arrive at the exact truth,
and his method of presenting the evidence throws a new light on Handel's
procedure. He showed that in most cases Handel made frequent alterations in
the music which he utilised, almost as if Stradella (to cite one name
out of many) had been a young pupil to whom he was giving a lesson in
composition.

A careful study of these alterations suggests a reason for Handel's action
which seems not to have occurred to any previous writer on the subject. No
one seems to have noticed hitherto that Handel's "borrowings" begin in
1736 on a small scale, and become more frequent in 1737, after which they
develop into a regular habit. It seems only natural therefore to connect
them with Handel's mental collapse; it became acute in the spring of 1737,
but it may well have been approaching in the previous year.

There is no need to go so far as to suggest that Handel suffered from moral
insanity and was incapable of distinguishing between right and wrong; but
it is quite conceivable that his paralytic stroke affected his brain in
such a way that he may sometimes have had a difficulty in starting a
composition. Biographers of Handel have more than once drawn attention to
phases in which he seems to have suffered from the inability to make a
definite decision. Indecision is a common symptom of overstrained nerves,
and anyone who has attempted musical composition or taught it to students
will understand the hesitation and uncertainty which often attends the
first writing down of a musical theme, although, once the initial idea has
been settled, the continuation and development of it may proceed without
difficulty. Any musician who studies the examples printed by Sedley Taylor
will at once exclaim that for a man of Handel's experience, to say nothing
of his fertility or indeed of his genius, it would have been far less
trouble to compose an original setting of given words than to adapt them
so laboriously to music written by someone else for a totally different
purpose. But after his attack of paralysis there may well have been
occasional moments when Handel could not make up his mind to write down an
idea of his own, but may very likely have found that when once he had an
idea ready on paper before him, whether that of another composer or an
old one of his own, he could then continue to compose, and often make
alterations in the music under his eyes which transformed it from a
commonplace into a masterpiece.

In the autumn of 1739 Handel transferred his concerts to the smaller
theatre in Lincoln's Inn Fields, where at first there seemed some hope of
success. On November 17 he produced his setting of Dryden's _Ode for St.
Cecilia's Day_; it was repeated several times, _Alexander's Feast_ and
_Acis and Galatea_ being added to the programmes. But a month later an
exceptionally severe frost set in; the Thames was frozen over, and for two
months it was useless to open the theatre, owing to the impossibility of
warming it adequately. In February he produced _L'Allegro_, adapted by
Charles Jennens from Milton's _L'Allegro_ and _Il Penseroso_, to which
Jennens had added a third part of his own, _Il Moderato_; but the public,
whether from indifference to the work or from fear of the cold, refused to
come to it. Handel was once more on the verge of ruin, but that did not
prevent him from giving a performance of his two most popular works, _Acis_
and _Alexander's Feast_, for the benefit of a new musical charity.

The charity in which Handel was so keenly interested had been founded in
1738 to assist impoverished musicians and their families; it still carries
on its honourable work under the title of the Royal Society of Musicians of
Great Britain.

The same year saw the inauguration of another charitable institution which
owed much to the continued generosity of Handel, the Foundling Hospital.
Like Hogarth, who was also a benefactor, Handel did not confine his support
to an occasional gift, but took the warmest personal interest in the place,
and eventually both he and Hogarth were made governors of it.

The managers of the Opera had found themselves quite unable to continue
productions on the grand scale of former years. In the winter of 1739-40
there had been an insignificant season at Covent Garden; it seems to have
been directed by the Italian composer Pescetti, who, in the following
winter, started concerts at the Little Theatre in the Haymarket. Mrs.
Pendarves, who during the last few years had not lived much in London, and
had thus dropped out of Handel's life, wrote in November: "The concerts
begin next Saturday at the Haymarket. Carestini sings, Pescetti composes;
the house is made up into little boxes, like the playhouses abroad." Dr.
Burney gives a comic account of the undertaking. "The opera, a tawdry,
expensive and meretricious lady, who had been accustomed to high keeping,
was now reduced to a very humble state. Her establishment was not only
diminished, but her servants reduced to half-pay. Pescetti seems to
have been her prime minister, Carestini her head man, the Muscovita her
favourite woman, and Andreoni a servant for all work." Concerts and
_pasticcios_ formed the main repertory, and Burney ascribes such success as
they enjoyed to the fact that the Little Theatre was a "snug retreat" in
which those who had the courage to quit their firesides during the great
frost might keep reasonably warm.

Handel had nothing to do with this theatre, but in 1740 again rented the
theatre in Lincoln's Inn Fields, where on November 8 he revived _Parnaso
in Festa_ "in its original oratorio manner, with the addition of scenes,
dresses and concertos on the organ and several other instruments." It had
but one performance; on the 22nd, Handel produced a new opera, or, as
Burney calls it, an _operetta_, which had no more than two performances.
This was _Imeneo_. On January 10, 1741, he brought out another new opera,
_Deidamia_, which ran for three nights. _Imeneo_ is a work of little
importance; _Deidamia_, on the other hand, contains several very beautiful
songs. But Dr. Burney, notwithstanding his admiration of it, has to admit
that much of it was old-fashioned, in the style of Handel's youth, and
sometimes "languid and antique." To Handel's admirers to-day such criticism
may seem ridiculous, but to his audiences of 1741 these reversions to an
earlier style would certainly have been most unwelcome.

_Deidamia_ was Handel's last work for the stage; the glorious achievements
of his youth and maturity had come to a hopeless end. His own public had
unjustly neglected him, posterity consigned his operas to oblivion.

At some period during the summer of 1741 Handel received an invitation from
the fourth Duke of Devonshire, then Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, to go over
to Dublin and give concerts there for the benefit of the local hospitals.
It is very probable that Mrs. Pendarves may have helped to secure this
engagement for Handel. She had spent a year and a half in Ireland in
1731-32, and her letters give a lively account of society in Dublin.
Matthew Dubourg, an excellent violinist, was at the head of the Viceroy's
band, and musical entertainments were frequent, for to judge from Mrs.
Pendarves' descriptions the Irish bishops and deans lived almost as
magnificently as the cardinals in Rome. Mrs. Pendarves was naturally a very
popular guest in Dublin society; she was a remarkably fine harpsichord
player for an amateur, and was constantly in demand as a performer at
private parties. There was no one in London or Dublin who had a more
intelligent understanding of Handel's music, and her enthusiasm for his
works was unbounded. She kept constantly in touch with Dublin life when in
England, for she corresponded with Dean Swift, and, what was more important
still, she had in 1730 made the acquaintance of Dr. Delany, an Irish
clergyman, whom she was to marry in 1743.

Handel did not leave London until the first week of November. During
the summer he had been occupied with the composition of a new oratorio,
_Messiah_, the words for which had been chosen and arranged by Jennens,
apparently with a good deal of assistance from his chaplain, the Rev. Mr.
Pooley. Whether _Messiah_ was composed with a view to production in Dublin
is not known; it was begun on August 22 and finished on September 14. A
fortnight later he had completed the first act of _Samson_. On the way to
Holyhead he stopped at Chester, where he was obliged to stay several days
on account of contrary winds which prevented his embarking. He seized
the opportunity to try over some of the choruses of _Messiah_ with local
church-singers, and Burney, who was at school at Chester, gives an amusing
account of the little rehearsal, at which Handel was roused to grotesque
fury by the inability of the bass, a printer by trade, to read "And with
His stripes" at sight. On November 18 he arrived in Dublin, and opened his
season at Neal's new music-hall in Fishamble Street on December 23 with a
performance of _L'Allegro_, interspersed with concertos. A few days later
he wrote a long letter to Jennens describing the unprecedented success
which he had enjoyed. Dublin received him with open arms, and he thoroughly
enjoyed his triumph, the more so as he felt himself to be in unusually good
health.

A series of concerts followed, at which various oratorios and other works
were performed. On April 8, 1742, there was a rehearsal of _Messiah_, open
to those who had taken tickets for the first performance, which took place
on Tuesday, April 13. The choir was provided by the singers from the two
cathedrals, some of whom took the male solo parts as well; the female
soloists were Mrs. Cibber and Signora Avolio. Over seven hundred persons
were present, and about £400 was divided between the three charities, the
Relief of Prisoners, Mercer's Hospital, and the Charitable Infirmary.

_Saul_ was performed on May 25, and a second performance of _Messiah_ took
place on June 3. Handel left Ireland on August 13. In another letter to
Jennens he says that his plans for the winter are undecided; for "this time
twelve-month" (i.e. September 1743) he intended to continue his oratorios
in Ireland. For some reason or other this second visit to Ireland never
took place.

It was not until February 17, 1743, that Handel came before the London
public again with _Samson_, which, unlike most of his oratorios, had
an immediate success. He had by this time dropped the Italian singers
altogether, and depended mainly on Mrs. Cibber and John Beard, a tenor who
had more sense of artistic style than power of voice. Mr. Flower says that
his voice was more powerful than sweet; Horace Walpole, who heard him, said
that he had only one note in it, and Mrs. Pendarves, whose judgment was
probably more trustworthy, said that he had no voice at all. The first
London performance of _Messiah_ was given on March 23, but it had no more
than two subsequent repetitions this season. There were many reasons why it
should have fallen flat. Jennens himself was extremely dissatisfied with
it. _Israel_ had been a failure too, and it is extremely probable that
musical people, accustomed to the Italian opera, were estranged by a
setting of Bible words in prose instead of a libretto in verse laid out on
more or less dramatic lines.

William Law's _Serious Call_ had been published in 1729; the book makes
frequent allusions to the frivolity of Italian opera, and opera-going is
picked out as one of the chief characteristics of irreligious persons. In
1739 John Wesley first began to preach in the open air; in 1742 Edward
Young's _Night Thoughts_ achieved its extraordinary popularity. These three
events were all significant of the religious movement that was taking place
among the more cultured classes in England, and this movement undoubtedly
affected Handel's oratorio concerts. The ultra-religious were shocked
at the association of sacred subjects with the theatre; those who could
combine religion with culture, like Mrs. Delany, who was now approaching
the age of piety, were Handel's most earnest supporters. It is quite
probable that the section of society which preferred its culture unmixed
with religion resented the attitude of the second party even more than that
of the first, because the second party belonged to their own social class,
and this resentment may well have contributed to the ever-increasing
hostility shown by many social leaders toward Handel. And Handel's personal
oddities were becoming rapidly more acute, partly owing to increasing age,
and still more owing to recurrences of paralysis and associated mental
derangement. He had another attack in this very year--1743.

_Messiah_ and _Samson_ were composed at a more favourable moment, and show
little use of borrowed material, except that _Messiah_ incorporates some
of Handel's own chamber duets, the melodies of which were more suitably
illustrative of their original Italian words than of the sentences from
Scripture to which he adapted them. But his next important work, the _Te
Deum_ in celebration of the victory at Dettingen (June 27), begun in July
and performed on November 27, incorporates no less than nine movements from
the Latin _Te Deum_ by Urio already drawn upon for _Israel in Egypt_. Mrs.
Delany "was all raptures," and thought it "excessively fine."

It is curious that, whereas the Dettingen _Te Deum_ was largely based on
borrowed material, Semele, composed in the previous month of June, should
be, as far as is at present known, entirely original. The libretto had been
written by Congreve in 1707 for an opera, and it was only natural that
its theatrical sense and its literary grace and distinction should have
inspired Handel to one of his loveliest works. Handel was never quite at
home in the English language, but in his later years he seems to have
developed a feeling for English poetry, more especially for that of
approximately his own time. But _Semele_ did not attract the opera
audience; it became increasingly clear that the opera party would have
nothing to do with Handel, and were in fact deliberately doing all they
could to bring him to ruin. Mrs. Delany and a few other great ladies
remained faithful, but they were in a small minority. It was evidently the
younger generation who were in opposition; Mrs. Delany alludes to them as
"the Goths--the fine ladies, the _petits maîtres_ and the ignoramuses," and
seemed surprised that they allowed the oratorio to be performed without
making a disturbance. Mrs. Delany was settling down to being the wife of a
dean.

_Joseph_ (March 2, 1744) fared no better, and Handel himself "was mightily
out of humour about it" at the rehearsals. The summer was devoted to the
composition of _Belshazzar_, for which Jennens had supplied the libretto.
The collaboration was not altogether happy, for although Jennens had
considerable sense of the picturesque, and offered Handel opportunities for
what may be called spectacular music on the grand scale, his literary style
was pompous, rhetorical, and long-winded. Handel protested perpetually
against the length of the work, for the Handelian style of composition
naturally extended the prolixity of the words; Jennens greatly resented the
musician's criticism, and insisted on printing the poem in full.

When the winter came, Handel produced nothing of importance until January
5, when he brought out _Hercules_, a secular oratorio which he had composed
in the summer during intervals when _Belshazzar_ had to be laid aside owing
to Jennens' delays. _Belshazzar_ was given on March 27. _Semele, Joseph_,
and _Saul_ were revived, but, whatever oratorio was given, the theatre was
almost empty, and the season came to a premature end on April 23. Handel
was again suffering from some form of illness, and was unable to take any
part in the performances, although he was present at them. Lady Shaftesbury
describes "the great, though unhappy, Handel, dejected, wan and dark,
sitting by, not playing on, the harpsichord," and adds that "his light had
been spent in being overplied in music's cause." Hawkins states definitely
that Handel became blind in 1751, and this date has been generally
accepted; Lady Shaftesbury's letter suggests that he was already blind,
or partially so, as early as March 1745, unless the word "light" is to be
taken as meaning the light of his reason. This interpretation, in fact, is
confirmed by a later letter of Lord Shaftesbury in October, in which he
says: "Poor Handel looks something better. I hope he will entirely recover
in due time, though he has been a good deal disordered in the head."
Another friend of Handel's, William Harris, met him in London, in August,
when he seems at first not to have recognised Harris and to have behaved
with some oddity; "he talked much of his precarious state of health, yet he
looks well enough."

It has generally been stated that in 1745 Handel again became bankrupt, but
Barclay Squire pointed out that his name does not occur in the official
lists of bankrupts. It must be remembered that, however disastrous his
opera or oratorio seasons were, he had always his permanent pension of £600
a year to fall back on, and Hawkins states that this pension, originally
granted by Queen Anne and George I, was punctually paid throughout his
life.

From the end of August, London was in a panic over the Jacobite rebellion
under the Young Pretender, Charles Edward. The Opera remained closed on
account of the prejudice against the Papist Italian singers; at the other
theatres patriotism expressed itself in appropriate music. Purcell's
"Genius of England" was sung at one, Arne's recently composed "Rule,
Britannia" at another, and on November 14 a "Chorus Song, set by Mr. Handel
for the _Gentlemen Volunteers_ of the City of London," was sung by Mr. Lowe
at Drury Lane. The words suggest that the anonymous author was familiar
with the Epilogue to Purcell's _King Arthur_; Handel's music is neither in
his own style nor in Purcell's, but resembles the poorest sort of English
patriotic song of the early eighteenth century. Patriotic poetry was well
illustrated by an additional verse for "God Save the King" which was
printed in this same month:

  _From France and Pretender
  Great Britain defend her,
  Foes let them fall;
  From foreign slavery,
  Priests and their knavery,
  And Popish Reverie,
  God save us all._

On December 6 the Pretender began his retreat from Derby, and panic was
allayed. Handel seized the opportunity to compose and bring out his
_Occasional Oratorio_, about half of which was taken from _Israel in
Egypt_; it contains a well-known quotation of "Rule, Britannia," and the
point of the quotation is made clearer when we know that it was one of the
patriotic songs sung at the theatres during the period of panic.

The Duke of Cumberland's defeat of the Pretender at Culloden on April
16, 1746, finally disposed of the Jacobites, and Handel made a further
contribution to the national rejoicings in "A Song on the Victory over the
Rebels," which was printed in the _London Magazine_ for July. The words
were by John Lockman; the first and last verses are as follows:

  _From scourging rebellion and baffling proud France,
  Crown'd with laurels behold British William advance:
  His triumph to grace and distinguish the day,
  The sun brighter shines and all nature's gay.

  Ye warriors on whom we due honours bestow,
  O think on the source whence our late evils flow;
  Commanded by William, strike next at the Gaul,
  And fix those in chains would Britain enthral._

In the same month Handel began the composition of a new oratorio in honour
of the Duke; this was _Judas Maccabaeus_, for which he had discovered a
new librettist, the Rev. Thomas Morell, formerly Fellow of King's College,
Cambridge. Morell has given a lively account of his collaboration with the
great man, whom he did not fear to criticise. Handel's retorts to him have
been reproduced as if they were outbursts of righteous indignation against
a snarling poetaster, but, in view of many other records of Handel's
rough tongue and genial humour (in which he seems often to have resembled
Brahms), we need not take them too seriously. It is quite clear that
Morell was more amused than offended, and the fact that they continued to
collaborate up to the end of Handel's career as a composer shows that they
must have remained on completely friendly terms.

Morell, to judge from the contemporary portrait of him, must have been a
rather comic little figure with a strong sense of humour. He was a scholar,
and something of a musician too. The academic primness of his verses has
endeared him to all lovers of Handel, and to no one more than Samuel
Butler; they are always admirably suited to their purpose, neat and
scholarly, concise and direct, with never a word too many. They run easily
for a singer, and it is not improbable that Morell was acquainted with the
works of that great model of all opera-poets, Metastasio, for his words,
like Metastasio's, acquire an unexpected beauty when they are sung.

Handel must have felt himself fully restored to health in the summer
of 1746, for _Judas_, which was written in five weeks, contains no
"borrowings," apart from a few numbers added some ten years later and
adapted from some of his early Italian opera songs. It was not performed
until April 1, 1747.



CHAPTER VII

Judas Maccabaeus--Gluck--Thomas Morell--incipient blindness--Telemann and
his garden--last oratorios--death--character and personality.


The new oratorio met with surprising success. In the first place, Handel
had given up the subscription system, and opened the theatre to all comers.
The relief produced by the victory of Culloden had no doubt encouraged
the general public to spend more money on entertainments; the Duke of
Cumberland was a popular hero, and, through the _Occasional Oratorio_,
Handel's name had come to be associated with him. _Judas_ was naturally
patronised by the court and by the Duke himself, who had made a handsome
present to Morell in recognition of his literary laurels. And a new class
of enthusiasts appeared in the shape of the Jews, we are told, who were
attracted by the glorification of a national hero of their own. We do not
hear much of the Jewish community in London in the days of Handel, and
it cannot have been a very large one, but they appear to have been worth
Handel's consideration. It may be mentioned that Handel's early librettist
in London, Nicolo Haym, must have been a Jew, to judge from his name.
Handel, at any rate, was sufficiently impressed to ask Morell to find
another Jewish subject for his next oratorio; this was _Alexander Balus_,
produced the following year.

The Italian opera party had this year engaged Gluck as a composer, and he
too celebrated the Duke of Cumberland's achievements with an opera, _La
Caduta dei Giganti_ (January 5), which was a complete failure. It must
have been put together in a hurry, for all of the "favourite songs" in it,
published by Walsh (and no other record of the music remains), were taken
from earlier operas of Gluck's; in any case they are poor stuff, and from
Burney's description of the singers it is no wonder that the opera had no
success. Gluck called on Handel, who told someone that he knew no more of
counterpoint than his cook. Gluck was just under thirty, Handel just over
sixty, and one can understand Handel's attitude; in any case he gave him
some plain and practical advice as to how to please an English audience,
which was not much use to Gluck, as he never visited this country again.
Handel was quite right in his criticism, for Gluck was always very clumsy
in his technique; and, at any rate, Gluck found him friendly enough and
spoke of him forty years later with the profoundest respect. It is probable
that Gluck heard _Judas_, as he was still in London in April.

A significant indication of the new popularity which Handel had acquired
was the production of a _pasticcio_, at the Italian Opera in November 1747,
made up chiefly from the operas of Handel; but the experiment was not
repeated. In the autumn of 1748 a company of Italian comic-opera singers
came over to London; they brought an entirely new type of entertainment,
and after their success Handelian opera was buried for ever.

_Alexander Balus_ was not one of Handel's popular works; _Joshua_ (March
23, 1748) is now pretty well forgotten, but was a great attraction when
new, mainly because it contained "See the Conquering Hero," which was
afterwards transferred to _Judas Maccabaeus_. "What the English like is
something that they can beat time to," said Handel to Gluck. He agreed with
Hawkins in not caring very much for it himself, but added, "you will live
to see it a greater favourite with the people than my other fine things."
_Joshua_ contains two "borrowings," one from Handel's own opera _Riccardo_,
and another from Gottlieb Muffat.

The productions of the next year (1749) were _Susanna_ (February 10) and
_Solomon_ (March 17); it is not known who wrote their libretti, though
_Solomon_ has been tentatively ascribed to Morell. _Susanna_ was remarkably
successful, perhaps on account of its story, which has always been a
favourite with the painters of the later Renaissance. One can understand
Lady Shaftesbury's saying, "I believe it will not insinuate itself so much
into my approbation as most of Handel's performances do, as it is in
the light operatic style." _Solomon_ was a complete contrast, with its
magnificent scenes of oriental pageantry.

The Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle (October 1748) had no doubt contributed, as
the victory of Culloden did, to make people more inclined to enjoy the
pleasures of life, with beneficial results to the organisers of music and
drama. The King ordered a grand celebration of the event to take place
on April 27, 1749, and preparations for it were begun as early as the
preceding November. The famous theatrical architect Servandoni was
commissioned to design an elaborate entertainment of fireworks on a
colossal scale to be let off in the Green Park, accompanied by the music of
Handel. The Fireworks Music was scored for fifty-six wind instruments. A
rehearsal of it (without fireworks) was held at Vauxhall Gardens a week
before, at half a crown admission, and it is said to have been attended by
a crowd of twelve thousand persons. At the actual performance the fireworks
were a disastrous failure, owing to various accidents, but Handel's music,
accompanied by the firing of ordnance, was the real event of the evening. A
month later Handel repeated the music at the Foundling Hospital, along with
selections from Solomon, and a new work, composed for the occasion, known
as the Foundling Anthem. His next act of generosity was to present the
hospital with an organ, which he inaugurated on May 1, 1750, with a
performance of Messiah. Henceforth the performance of Messiah at the
Foundling Hospital for the benefit of the institution became an annual
event, and it was this charitable association which really secured the work
its subsequent popularity.

Handel's next oratorio, Theodora (March 16, 1750), came out at a bad
moment, for a series of earthquakes were being felt in London, with the
result that many people took refuge in the country, and those who stayed
behind were reluctant to go to the theatre. The blame for the neglect which
has always overtaken Theodora has been very unjustly laid on Morell. Handel
himself, remembering the successes of Judas and Susanna, observed to the
poet, "The Jews will not come to it, because it is a Christian story; and
the ladies will not come, because it is a virtuous one." Theodora was
always Handel's favourite among his oratorios, and he considered the
chorus, "He saw the Lovely Youth," to be far beyond anything in Messiah.
None the less, the theatre was half empty when Theodora was given. "Never
mind," said Handel, with grim humour, "the music will sound all the
better."

An old acquaintance reappeared this year in London in the shape of Cuzzoni,
who had continued her quarrelsome career at Venice, Vienna, and Stuttgart.
An unsuccessful benefit concert was given for her, at which Giardini the
violinist made his first appearance in London. Handel engaged her to sing
in Messiah at the Foundling Hospital, but her voice was gone. She was
arrested for debt and bailed out by the Prince of Wales; after a few years
in Holland, where she was again in prison, she died in destitution at
Bologna.

In the summer Handel went to Germany for the last time. Nothing is known of
his movements there beyond the fact that on the journey out he met with a
carriage accident between the Hague and Haarlem. He was seriously injured,
but was stated in a London paper of August 21 to be out of danger. Nor is
it known when he returned; we have no further news of him until in January
he began work on Jephtha. Morell says that he himself wrote Jephtha in
1751, but, as Handel had completed the first act on February 2, it is
probable that Morell, like Jennens, supplied him with the words in
instalments.

The composition of the music suffered various interruptions owing to the
failure of Handel's eyesight, and possibly to a return of mental disorder
(Streatfeild). He was able to play the organ at the Foundling Hospital
in May, and directly afterwards went for a short visit to Cheltenham,
returning to London on June 13. He resumed work on Jephtha, and finished it
on August 30. It was some time this year (the precise date is unknown) that
he consulted Samuel Sharp, a surgeon of Guy's Hospital, who told him that
he was suffering from gutta serena, and that freedom from pain in the
visual organs was all that he had to hope for during the remainder of his
days. It was a severe shock, especially to a man whose general physical and
mental health was already undermined, and it is no wonder that Handel began
to give way to periods of profound depression. The condition of Handel's
eyes, and of his hand as well, may be clearly observed in the autograph of
Jephtha, and it may be noted that here he again reverted to the process of
"borrowing"--this time from five Masses by Habermann, a composer twenty
years his junior, published in 1747.

It may well be asked how Handel acquired the original copies of all the
works which he utilised in his later years, since it is obvious that they
could not have been well known or easily available to musicians in England.
A guess may be hazarded that he obtained them through his old friend
Telemann at Hamburg. Telemann, it will be remembered, had been a close
friend of Handel's during their student days at Halle; whether they met
again in Germany after Handel had taken up his residence in London is
not known, but it is quite probable. The fact remains that Handel was
undoubtedly in friendly correspondence with Telemann in 1750, for in
December of that year he wrote a long letter to him (in French) thanking
him for a theoretical work. Telemann appears to have been a keen gardener,
and had evidently asked Handel to send him some rare plants. Handel's reply
suggests that he was not much interested in gardening himself, but was most
anxious to do all he could to give Telemann pleasure.

Another letter (again in French) to Telemann, dated September 20, 1754,
explains that Handel had set about procuring the plants when Captain
Carsten of Hamburg, by whose ship he intended to send them, told him that
Telemann was dead; but, after another voyage to Hamburg and back, Carsten
brought the news that Telemann was alive and in good health. He also
brought a list of the rare plants desired, and Handel writes to say that he
has obtained almost all of them, and will send them by Captain Carsten when
he sails for Hamburg again in December.

It is true that there is no mention of any parcel of music in these
letters, beyond Telemann's "System of Intervals," but they suggest that
they were part of a longer correspondence. Telemann was keenly interested
in contemporary music, as his correspondence with Graun shows; he also
seems to have asked Graun to send him plants from Berlin. He is the most
likely person to have sent musical works of interest to Handel; possibly
they were sent on loan, and returned after Handel had made the extracts
which are to be seen in the Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge.

Jephtha was produced on February 26, 1752. Handel's oratorios had by now
become a lucrative undertaking, and it was characteristic of English
audiences that they came in crowds to see Handel playing the organ in his
blindness, and enjoy the luxury of tears when Beard sang "Total Eclipse!"
Sharp, the oculist, recommended Handel to employ as his assistant John
Stanley, who had been blind from early childhood and was a singularly
accomplished organist. Handel burst out laughing. "Mr. Sharp, have you
never read' the Scriptures? Do you not remember? If the blind lead the
blind, they both fall into the ditch."

He underwent various operations, but derived only partial benefit from
them. During these last years he led a very retired life, but he continued
to play the organ at his oratorios, at first from memory, and later
extemporising the solos in his concertos, which were always an integral
feature of his concerts. The profits of these were enormous, and when he
died in 1759 he left investments to the extent of 20,000. Composition
naturally became a more difficult matter after blindness set in, but new
songs were added to many of the oratorios, and in 1758 he made a complete
revision of his old Italian cantata, Il Trionfo del Tempo. Morell
translated it into English, and seventeen new numbers were added. Some of
these were new, but many were adapted from other works of Handel's, chiefly
from Parnasso in Festa, and there are also borrowings from Lotti and Graun.
Two choruses by Graun had already been utilised in the revision of the
Italian version which Handel brought out in 1737.

All this time John Christopher Schmidt, now known as Smith, had been his
indispensable factotum. Smith made fair copies of his music, and managed
his affairs for him, though Handel, almost up to the end, seems to have
discussed his investments in person with his financial adviser, Mr. Gael
Morris, in the City. Smith's son, who had come with his father to London as
a child, had been educated under Handel's direction, and in 1754 became the
first organist of the Foundling Hospital. In Handel's later years it was
the son who assisted him at the performances of the oratorios and acted as
his musical amanuensis. There is a curious story of a quarrel which took
place at Tunbridge Wells, about four years before Handel's death, between
the two old men. The cause of it is not known, but it is stated to have
been quite trivial; old Smith left Handel abruptly, and Handel vowed he
would never see him again. The son attempted to heal the breach and even
went so far as to say that he would refuse to assist Handel at his concerts
any more unless Handel restored to his father the legacy which after the
quarrel he had intended to leave to the son; young Smith foresaw that he
himself would be accused of having deliberately alienated the affections of
Handel from his father in order to secure the money for himself.

Handel apparently yielded to some extent, but it is clear that he was not
reconciled to old Smith for a long time. "About three weeks before his
death," we are told, in Coxe's Anecdotes of Handel and Smith, published
soon after young Smith's death, "Handel desired Smith junior to receive the
sacrament with him. Smith asked him how he could communicate, when he was
not at peace with the world and especially when he was at enmity with
his former friend, who, though he might have offended him once, had been
faithful and affectionate to him for thirty years." Handel was much
affected by Smith's words, and the reconciliation took place. Religion had
gained a strong hold upon Handel in his years of suffering; he spoke much
to Hawkins and others of his delight in setting the Scriptures to music,
and he was a regular worshipper at St. George's, Hanover Square.

His last appearance in public was at the performance of Messiah on April 6,
1759, but at the end of it he was seized with a fainting attack, took to
his bed, and died during the night between the 13th and 14th of April. He
was buried in Westminster Abbey on the evening of the 10th; the choirs
of the Chapel Royal and St. Paul's joined the Abbey choir in singing the
burial music of Dr. Croft, and it is said that three thousand people were
present.

Handel's will, executed June 1, 1750, left the bulk of his fortune to his
niece and goddaughter Johanna Friderica Floerken (nee Michaelsen) of Gotha;
other relatives were also left legacies. To Christopher Smith (junior) he
left 500, besides his large harpsichord, his chamber organ, his portrait
by Denner, and his manuscripts. He had at one time thought of leaving the
manuscripts to the University of Oxford, and, having already promised them
to Smith, offered him a legacy of £3,000 if he would resign all claim to
them. Smith refused, and also refused an offer of £2,000 made for them,
after Handel's death, by Frederick the Great. He kept them until 1772, when
he presented them to George III in return for a pension of £200 a year. But
he did not hand over the whole of the manuscripts to the King, and a
large collection of rough sketches and fragments was acquired by Lord
Fitzwilliam, who bequeathed them to the University of Cambridge.

The foregoing pages will have shown how singularly few are the definite
facts about Handel's life which can be ascertained with any degree of
certainty. There are a number of portraits which give some idea of his
outward appearance, but most of them represent him as a man of middle age,
and the anecdotes of his life and habits recorded by various contemporaries
belong mostly to the same period. It is almost impossible to form any idea
of his private character and his inward personality. Biographers of
musicians often attempt to deduce their characters from their musical
works, but it need hardly be said that such a procedure is thoroughly
unreliable.

Portraits are notoriously unsafe as guides to the interpretation of
character, but if the miniature reproduced by Mr. Flower as having been
painted in Rome is an authentic likeness of Handel as a young man and it
certainly bears some resemblance to the portrait by Denner painted about
1736 or 1737--he must have been singularly attractive in those days. It
cannot have been his musical abilities alone that won him the immediate
friendship of Telemann at Halle and Mattheson at Hamburg; and, although he
seems from his earliest days to have been ambitious and determined to make
a career for himself, his contemporaries give the impression that he was
retiring rather than self-assertive. In later life he was often described
as bearish and rough-mannered, but this cannot have been the case in his
youth, or he would never have achieved the position which he held in the
most cultured and distinguished society of Rome and Naples. His visit to
Italy must inevitably have been a wonderful education in the humanities,
otherwise he could never have been received as he was on his first visit
to London by the society which most nearly resembled that of his Italian
friends and patrons.

Professional musicians, and especially those connected with the theatre,
were regarded in England as being more or less disreputable, unless they
held university degrees and posts of distinction. Handel moved among them
in his professional life, as was only natural, but his more intimate
friendships seem, throughout his career, to have been confined mainly
to the innermost circle of the well-bred amateurs; we must not forget,
however, that it was only persons of that class whose letters and memoirs
have come down to us. Burney and Hawkins at any rate were well acquainted
with the professional world, and their testimony tends to confirm that
Handel stood more or less aloof from it. It was only in later life that he
associated on terms of friendship with such a person as Mrs. Cibber, the
singer. In an age when all opera-houses were, with some truth, regarded as
centres of sexual promiscuity, it is indeed remarkable that not the least
evidence exists, with one solitary exception, that Handel was ever even
alleged to have had an illicit love-affair. Mr. Flower discovered a copy of
Mainwaring's biography, with marginal notes said to be in the handwriting
of George III, and there we read: "G. F. Handel was ever honest, nay
excessively polite, but like all Men of Sense would talk all, and hear
none, and scorned the advice of any but the Woman he loved, but his
Amours were rather of short duration, always within the pale of his own
profession." The _Anecdotes of Handel and Smith_ mention two occasions on
which he was said to have become engaged to be married, or nearly so, but
the writer is so reticent that little faith can be placed in his statement,
and in any case the _Anecdotes_, published in 1799, are not very reliable
as far as Handel is concerned.

It is not difficult to understand that there were two Handels, one
"excessively polite" (which, in the language of the eighteenth century,
does not mean that he was servile and cringing, but simply that he behaved
like a man of good breeding), as he appeared to such people as Mrs. Delany
and the Harris family, and the other as he showed himself at rehearsals,
or in the society of men friends of more or less his own standing--bluntly
outspoken and perhaps at times inconsiderate. The hostility of a large
number of social leaders may well have been aroused in the first instance
by some careless harsh word.

"The figure of Handel was large," says Burney, "and he was somewhat
corpulent and unwieldy in his motions; but his countenance, which I
remember as perfectly as that of any man I saw but yesterday, was full of
fire and dignity; and such as impressed ideas of superiority and genius. He
was impetuous, rough, and peremptory in his manners and conversation, but
totally devoid of ill-nature or malevolence; indeed there was an original
humour and pleasantry in his most lively sallies of anger or impatience,
which, with his broken English, were extremely risible. His natural
propensity to wit and humour, and happy manner of relating common
occurrences in an uncommon way, enabled him to throw persons and things
into very ridiculous attitudes. Handel's general look was somewhat heavy
and sour, but when he did smile, it was his sire the sun, bursting out of
a black cloud. There was a sudden flash of intelligence, wit, and good
humour, beaming in his countenance, which I hardly ever saw in any other."

Both Burney and Hawkins record that outside his profession he was said to
be ignorant and dull, and the fact that they are at pains to defend him on
this charge shows that there was apparent ground for it. Pepusch said of
him that he was "a good practical musician," which is what one might well
expect of Pepusch, whose devotion to antiquarian learning aroused the
amusement rather than the admiration of his contemporaries. Handel was at
any rate keenly interested in painting, like Corelli, and the third codicil
to his will, dated August 4, 1757, mentions two landscapes by Rembrandt,
one a view of the Rhine, which he bequeathed to one of the Granvilles from
whom he had received both as a gift.

Another characteristic of Handel's for which his early biographers are
hard put to find an excuse was his enormous appetite for food and drink,
satirised by his once intimate friend the painter Goupy in a well-known
print called "The Charming Brute," in which Handel is represented with the
head of a pig, seated at an organ, with various comestibles disposed at his
feet. In this connexion it may be noted that for all his gluttony Handel
was never accused of drunkenness; if he exceeded in the pleasures of the
table, it was as a gourmet and a connoisseur. Yet it is recorded that he
never led an extravagant life, and apart from this particular weakness
he lived as simply in the days of his wealth as in those of his poverty.
Generosity to those in distress was at all times characteristic of him.

Although Handel became a naturalised British subject, none of his
contemporaries would ever have dreamed of regarding him as an Englishman,
or as a composer of English music. Burney's account of the commemoration
festival of 1784 may be regarded as an official panegyric, but even in
that he goes no further than to say that Handel, "though not a native
of England, spent the greatest part of his life in the service of its
inhabitants, improving our taste, and introducing among us so many species
of musical excellence, that, during more than half a century, while
sentiment, not fashion, guided our applause, we neither wanted nor wished
for any other standard. Indeed, his works were so long the models of
perfection in this country, that they may be said to have formed our
national taste." In the pages which deal with the character of Handel as a
composer, he says that he united "the depth and elaborate contrivance of
his own country with Italian elegance and facility." Handel's music, he
holds, was from the first congenial to the English temperament, but he
never regards it as being at all English in style, though in other writings
he naturally recognises the occasional indebtedness of Handel to the
influence of Purcell. It was only in the nineteenth century that Handel
came to be regarded as a national institution. His own country for the most
part neglected his works; his operas were thought impossible to revive, and
the oratorios were considered by most Germans as being "too English"--an
opinion which the writer of this book frequently heard expressed in Germany
some fifty years ago. Since 1920 there has been an astonishing revival
of Handel in Germany, beginning with the restoration to the stage of his
operas--the last works of his which most people would have thought suitable
for presentation to modern audiences--and much energy has been expended
by German critics on an attempt to demonstrate the essentially Germanic
character both of Handel's music and of his personality.

The more closely we study Handel in relation to his own times, and in
relation to the general history of music, the clearer it becomes that Goupy
the caricaturist was only right when he put into Handel's mouth the words,
"I am myself alone."

The foundation of Handel's musical style was Italian, and it was only
natural that this should be the case, for, in his days, Italy dominated
European music as she did European architecture. All music in the grand
manner, except in France, was Italian in its tradition, and if ever there
was a composer who illustrated the grand manner throughout his life, it was
Handel. France had produced a grand manner of her own, though not without
an initial impulse from Italy; in all other countries north of the Alps
native music was only for the humbler classes of society. When Handel
condescended to it, as he did in the political excitement of 1745, he
deliberately adopted the musical style of a tavern song.

Handel's serious music was never written for popular audiences; in his
later oratorios he sometimes admittedly wrote down to the taste of the
middle classes, but we have the records of his conversations with Gluck,
Hawkins, and others to prove how little respect he had for that taste. He
composed for the needs of the moment, and not with a view to immortality,
but he composed for a society which was cultured enough to desire, even in
its entertainments, grace, dignity, and serenity.

If Handel's works have for later generations become a source of joy and
delight to a very different social class, it is because they are the
musical equivalents of those palaces and gardens of Handel's day which
are now national monuments and open to all comers. We walk beneath their
colonnades, peopling them in imagination with the gracious and stately
figures of the past; and from the museum of memory there arise the unheard
strains of Handel's music:

  _Hark! the heavenly sphere turns round,
  And silence now is drown'd,
  In ecstasy of sound!
  How on a sudden the still air is charm'd,
  As if all harmony were just alarm'd
  And every soul with transport fill'd!_



BIBLIOGRAPHY

Mainwaring, J.: _Memoirs of the Life of the Late G. F. Handel_. London.
1760.

Burney, Charles: _A General History of Music_. London. 1776-89.

Burney, Charles: _An Account of the Musical Performances in Westminster
Abbey, etc._ London. 1785.

Hawkins, Sir John: _A General History of the Science and Practice of
Music_. London. 1776.

Coxe, W.: _Anecdotes of G. F. Handel and Y. C. Smith_. London. 1799.

Schoelcher, Victor: _The Life of Handel_. London. 1857. The first attempt
at a complete and documented biography.

Chrysander, Friedrich: _G. F. Händel_. Leipzig. 1858-67. This biography
does not go beyond 1740, but it is the most valuable source for carefully
documented facts.

Delany, Mary: _Autobiography and Correspondence of Mary Granville, Mrs.
Delany_. Edited by Lady Llanover. London. 1861-62.

Taylor, Sedley: _The Indebtedness of Handel to Works by Other Composers_.
Cambridge. 1906.

Robinson, Percy: _Handel and His Orbit_. London. 1908.

Streatfeild, R.A.: _Handel_. London. 1909. The best biography of Handel and
critical study of his works in English.

Squire, W. Barclay: _Handel in 1745_ (Riemann-Festschrift). Leipzig. 1909.

Rolland, Romain: _Haendel_. Paris. 1910.

Flower, Newman: _George Friederic Handel: His Personality and His Times_.
London. 1923.

This book contains much new biographical matter. I have to thank Mr. Flower
for kind permission to make use of his valuable discoveries.

Leichtentritt, Hugo: _Händel._ Stuttgart. 1924. Biography based mainly on
Streatfeild; gives a detailed analysis of all Handel's works.

Young, Percy M.: _Handel._ London. 1947.



HANDEL'S WORKS

OPERAS

  _Almira_ (Hamburg, 1705).
  _Nero_ (Hamburg, 1705, music lost).
  _Florindo_ (Hamburg, 1707, music lost).
  _Dafne_ (Hamburg, 1707, music lost).
  _Rodrigo_ (Florence, 1707?).
  _Agrippina_ (Venice, 1709).

The following operas were all produced in London:

  _Rinaldo_ (1711).
  _Il Pastor Fido_ (first version, 1712).
  _Teseo_ (1712).
  _Silla_ (1714).
  _Amadigi_ (1715).
  _Radamisto_ (1720).
  _Muzio Scevola_ (1721, only Act III by Handel).
  _Floridante_ (1721).
  _Ottone_ (1723).
  _Flavio_ (1723).
  _Giulio Cesare_ (1724).
  _Tamerlano_ (1724).
  _Rodelinda_ (1725).
  _Scipione_ (1726).
  _Alessandro_ (1726).
  _Admeto_ (1727).
  _Riccardo I_ (1727).
  _Siroe_ (1728).
  _Tolomeo_ (1728).
  _Lotario_ (1729).
  _Partenope_ (1730).
  _Poro_ (1731).
  _Ezio_ (1732).
  _Sosarme_ (1732).
  _Orlando_ (1733).
  _Arianna_ (1734).
  _Parnasso in Festa_ (1734).
  _Il Pastor Fido_ (second version, 1734).
  _Terpsichore_ (1734).
  _Ariodante_ (1735).
  _Alcina_ (1735).
  _Atalanta_ (1736).
  _Arminio_ (1737).
  _Giustino_ (1737).
  _Berenice_ (1737).
  _Faramondo_ (1738).
  _Serse_ (1738).
  _Jupiter in Argos_ (1739, announced but never performed).
  _Imeneo_ (1740).
  _Deidamia_ (1741).

ORATORIOS:

  _St. John Passion_ (German, Hamburg, 1704).
  _La Risurrezione_ (Italian, Rome, 1708).
  _Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno_ (Italian, Rome, 1708).
  _Aci, Galatea e Polifemo_ (Italian, Naples, 1709).
  _Brockes Passion_ (German, Hanover, 1716).

All the following oratorios are in English:

  _Esther_ (first version, London, 1720).
  _Acis and Galatea_ (London, 1720).
  _Esther_ (second version, London, 1732).
  _Debora_ (London, 1733).
  _Athalia_ (Oxford, 1733).
  _Alexander's Feast_ (London, 1736).
  _Saul_ (London, 1739).
  _Israel in Egypt_ (London, 1739).
  _Ode for St. Cecilia's Day_ (London, 1739).
  _L'Allegro, Il Penseroso ed Il Moderato_ (London, 1740).
  _Messiah_ (Dublin, 1742).

HANDEL 139

The following oratorios were all produced in London:

  _Samson_ (1743).
  _Semele_ (1743).
  _Joseph_ (1743).
  _Belshazzar_ (1744).
  _Hercules_ (1744).
  _Occasional Oratorio_ (1746).
  _Judas Maccabaeus_ (1747).
  _Alexander Balus_ (1747).
  _Joshua_ (1747).
  _Solomon_ (1748).
  _Susanna_ (1748).
  _Theodora_ (1749).
  _The Choice of Hercules_ (1749).
  _Jephtha_ (1752).
  _The Triumph of Time and Truth_ (1757).

SACRED WORKS:

  _Laudate Pueri_ (Rome, 1707).
  _Dixit Dominus_ (Rome, 1707).
  _Nisi Dominus_ (Rome, 1707).
  _Gloria Patri_ (Rome, 1707).
  _Salve Regina_ (1707?).
  _Silete Venti_ (1707?).
  _Utrecht Te Deum and Jubilate_ (London, 1713).
  _Te Deum_ in D (1714?).
  _Te Deum_ in B flat (Chandos) (1718-20).
  _Te Deum_ in A (1727?).
  _Twelve Chandos Anthems_ (1716-19).
  _Four Coronation Anthems_ (1727).
  _Wedding Anthem for Princess Anne_ (1734).
  _Wedding Anthem for the Prince of Wales_ (1736).
  _Funeral Anthem for Queen Caroline_ (1737).
  _Dettingen Te Deum_ (1743).
  _Dettingen Anthem_ (1743).
  _Foundling Hospital Anthem_ (1749).

SECULAR VOCAL MUSIC:

  _Birthday Ode for Queen Anne_ (1713).
  _Italian Cantatas, Duets and Trios_.
  _German Songs_.

INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC:

  _Six Concertos_ (so-called "Oboe Concertos"), published 1734.
  _Three Concertos_ ("Select Harmony"), published 1741.
  _Twelve Grand Concertos_, op. 6 (published 1740).
  _Three Concertos a due cori_.
  _Overtures, Marches, Dances, etc_.
  _Concerto for Oboe and Orchestra_.
  _Concerto for Violin and Orchestra_.
  _Water Music_ (1715-17).
  _Forest Music_ (1742, probably spurious).
  _Music for the Royal Fireworks_ (1749).
  _Six Concertos for Harpsichord or Organ_, op. 4 (1738).
  _Six Concertos for Harpsichord or Organ_ (1740).
  _Six Concertos for Harpsichord or Organ_, op. 7 (1760).

Many of these are arrangements of other works.

  _Sonatas for Flute, Oboe or Violin and Bass_ (19).
  _Six Sonatas for two Oboes and Bass_.
  _Six Sonatas for two Violins (Oboes or Flutes) and Bass_, op. 2 (1733).
  _Seven Sonatas for two Violins (Flutes) and Bass_, op. 5 (1739).
  _Sonata for Viola de Gamba_.
  _Suites de Pièces pour le Clavecin_ (8) (1720).
  _Suites de Pièces pour le Clavecin_ (8) (1733).
  _Miscellaneous Harpsichord Music_.





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