Georg Frideric Handel (1685-1759)

Episodes

EpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
Comments
0120120716

Donald Macleod explores the year 1707 in the life of Handel.

In this week's celebration of the life and work of George Frideric Handel, presenter Donald Macleod selects five key "years in the life" of the composer, taking us from his very earliest successes as a court composer in Rome in 1707, through his classic "Chandos" anthems of 1717, operatic politicking and prima donnas in 1725, the freezing winter of 1739, and finally - Handel's great musical jamboree for George II, the Music For The Royal Fireworks of 1749.

Rarities include excerpts from his pasticcio "Jupiter in Argos" (given its world premiere recording only in 2006); Handel's late incidental music to Tobias Smollett's play "Alceste", and that most unusual of things: a rare and beautiful set of arias setting poetry in Handel's native German language, sung ravishingly by Dame Emma Kirkby.

Complementing this week's Proms performance of the complete Water Music and Music For The Royal Fireworks by Hervé Niquet and Le Concert Spirituel on Wednesday 18th July, Donald Macleod also introduces two selections of Sir Hamilton Harty and Leopld Stokowski's arrangements of these works for full symphony orchestra. Once hugely popular, the muscular sound of a full orchestra playing Handel has more recently fallen completely out of favour - this week gives listeners a chance to compare two very different takes on a pair of his most popular works.

---

In Monday's episode, Donald Macleod explores the year 1707 in the life of Handel, as the largely unknown young composer arrives in Rome.

01Handel In Italy20111219

Donald Macleod looks at the life and music of this German-born composer who arrived in Georgian London just as the craze for Italian opera was taking hold, producing a series of masterpieces which made him the talk of the town.

And as its popularity subsided, Handel re-invented himself as a composer of English oratorio, many of which continue to be the staple fare of choral societies throughout the country.

Over the course of his long career he had to contend with all kinds of challenges as he negotiated his way through the opera world, with its temperamental singers, rival composers and squabbling management, producing music not only to please the paying public but also, when required, to mark the births, deaths and marriages of a dysfunctional royal family.

Donald investigates the effect all these colourful individuals had on Handel's life and music, not forgetting those who collaborated with him on his oratorios in the second half of his career, one of the most important being Charles Jennens, who provided the words for the best loved of all Handel's music, Messiah.

Today he turns his attention to the time Handel spent in Italy where he cut his teeth as an opera composer and found support and inspiration from important figures such as the diplomat and composer whose miniature cantatas influenced his own, and the cardinal who provided one of the best librettos Handel ever set.

Donald Macleod presents music from the early part of Handel's career in Italy.

0220120717

1717: Chandos Anthems...and the story of the Water Music.

By 1749, Handel had assumed the position of supreme impresario on the London stage. In this last exploration of a "year in the life" of the composer, presenter Donald Macleod explores the story behind Handel's Music For The Royal Fireworks - with an extract played in Leopold Stokowski's full orchestral arrangement - and introduces a rarity: Handel's incidental music to Tobias Smollett's play "Alceste".

02Conflict And Resolution20111220

As Handel begins to make his way in London and the Italian opera craze takes a hold, Handel finds himself having to deal with competition from fellow-composers, and attempting to keep afloat under the onslaught of a rival opera company.

Donald Macleod looks at the opera with which Handel introduced himself to the London public, two masterpieces staged at key moments in Handel's career as the demand for opera in London started to flag, and a curious work Handel wrote with his arch-rival.

Donald Macleod focuses on three operas from key moments in Handel's career.

0320120718

1725: drama at the opera as Handel's two prima donnas vie for centre stage.

Donald Macleod presents Handel's life in the year 1725, a year of drama at the opera as Handel's two prima donnas vie for centre stage. He also presents a rare performance of a selection of Handel's "German Arias" - ironically, one of the few major examples of the composer setting his native language - as well as excerpts from the composer's great opera, Rodelinda.

03Handel And The Age Of The Celebrity Singer20111221

None of Handel's successes would have been possible without the world-class line-up of singers which he hand-picked himself on trips to Italy.

Donald Macleod looks at three of the most important in his career - Francesco Bernardi better known as the castrato Senesino who sang in no fewer than 17 of Handel's leading roles, and two sopranos - Francesca Cuzzoni and Faustina Bordoni whose infamous rivalry proved to be both a blessing and a curse.

Donald Macleod focuses on three of the most important singers in Handel's career.

0420120719

1739: A bitterly cold winter in London...and Handel's best-loved organ concerto.

Donald Macleod introduces the year 1739 in Handel's life, a year when London froze and played havoc with the music season. Featuring a performance of his most popular organ concerto, "The Cuckoo And The Nightingale"; Handel's setting of Dryden's "A Song For Saint Cecilia's Day"; and a real rarity - the composer's "pasticcio" opera "Jupiter In Argos", recorded for the first time only in 2006.

04Handel And His Royal Masters20111222

Donald Macleod introduces music associated with the various monarchs who reigned during Handel's time in England, including an orchestral suite famously performed on the River Thames for King George I, the best loved of all his anthems, performed at the coronation of his son George II, and an oratorio written to celebrate the Hanoverian victory over the second Jacobite Rebellion.

Donald Macleod introduces music by Handel written for various British monarchs.

05 LAST20120720

1749, and story of the Music For The Royal Fireworks.

By 1749, Handel had assumed the position of supreme impresario on the London stage. In this last exploration of a "year in the life" of the composer, presenter Donald Macleod explores the story behind Handel's Music For The Royal Fireworks - with an extract played in Leopold Stokowski's full orchestral arrangement - and introduces a rarity: Handel's incidental music to Tobias Smollett's play "Alceste".

05 LASTHandel And Jennens20111223

During his oratorio career, the most important collaborator Handel worked with was the librettist Charles Jennens, best known for his contribution to Messiah.

As a fervent Jacobite, it's likely that Jennens took advantage of the situation and incorporated hidden political messages in the texts addressed to like-minded listeners, drawing parallels between the oratorios' biblical protagonists and the exiled Jacobite King.

Donald Macleod introduces examples of each of their collaborations and looks at the part Jennens played in bringing these masterpieces to fruition.

Donald Macleod explores the collaborations between Handel and librettist Charles Jennens.