Music Composers

Georg Friedrich Handel-Part 5

Handel's First Appointment

In 1697, Handel being then twelve years old, his father died. The boy entered the University of Halle, but after one year and a half he tired of his purely classical studies, and finally abandoned them. His sense of filial duty had to give way before the irresistible urge of his genius. While he was still studying at the university Handel received his first musical appointment of organist at the Domkirche of Halle. The post was no sinecure, for the holder of it was expected to furnish a great deal of original music for the service of the church, train the choir, keep the instrument in proper order and to play it. For all this the magnificent sum of fifty thalers (about 38 dollars) per annum was offered! Handel probably considered more the artistic advantage of gaining experience in conducting than the actual compensation. The choir was a purely voluntary one, formed of fellow students or friends of Handel whom he would gather together two days a week for practicing both vocal and instrumental church music. The short experience of regular musical work gave him more faith in his own powers, and he resolved to seek a wider field for his enterprise in Hamburg, whither he went in 1703.

This town was at that time in the apogee of its commercial prosperity, possessing a German opera house which rivaled that of Berlin. Handel commenced by entering this threatre as "violino di repieno." Mattheson writes: "At first he played the 'violin di repieno' in the orchestra of the opera house, and he acted the part of a man who did not know how to count five, for he was naturally prone to dry humor. But the harpsichordist being absent, he allowed himself to be persuaded to replace him, and proved himself to be a great master, to the astonishment of everybody, except myself, who had often heard him in private."

The Etude Magazine June 1920






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