Music Composers

Georg Friedrich Handel-Part 9

The title of the new opera was Agrippina, and its first performance, in 1708, caused great enthusiasm, so that the audience burst out in shouts of "Viva il caro Sassone!" (Long live the dear Saxon!) One of the songs, Vaghe fonti, presents in its orchestral accompaniment the first instance of Handel's use of the pizzicato and mutes. In Rome Handel was a guest of the "Arcadians," a society which cultivated every kind of artistic taste, and whose members were drawn from the best houses of the country. At the Cardinal Ottoboni's house he met the famous violinist and composer, Corelli (his works have been edited and published by Joachim), and Allesandro Scarlatti, the greatest Italian musician then living. At the wish of Cardinal Ottoboni, Domenico Scarlatti, the talented son of Allesandro, entered a friendly contest with Handel for the purpose of deciding their respective merits on the organ and the harpsichord. The result of the contest proved doubtful in the case of the harpsichord, but when it came to the organ Scarlatti was the first to admit his rival's superiority. The effect of the contest was to bind them in a closer friendship than ever. Handel always afterward spoke in the most eulogistic terms of Scarlatti's talent, and whenever Scarlatti was praised for his organ playing he was accustomed to say, devoutly crossing himself: "But you should hear Handel!"

His next station was Naples, where he remained more than a year. In the autumn of 1709 Handel began to think of returning home, not , however, before bidding a formal farewell to his friends in the various towns he had visited. He began with Rome, where - it being Christmas - he heard the famous pifferari of Calabria play on the bagpipe the melody which they have performed in Rome from time immemorial during the holy week, and he introduced it afterwards in the little pastoral symphony which precedes the arrival of the shepherds in the Messiah.

The Etude Magazine June 1920






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