This is the first blog I’ve ever written, so cut me some slack if you don’t leave here feeling more educated!
At the moment I’m reading the faber pocket guide to Handel by Edward Blakeman, because I really want to enhance my understanding of certain composers that have played an essential part in my musical journey. I remember singing Handel’s messiah in the Trinity Boys’ Choir and the London Mozart Players in year 8 and I will never forget the power this music gives you-even at a young age when you don’t understand it very much.
What I want to quickly write about, as I have much more interesting things to do today (how people are obsessed with their appearance Spanish essay…), is how we picture Handel in our minds. Firstly, have a look at Wikipedia’s portrait of Handel:
This is a classic photo of the important composer shows us his plain expression, but at the same time gives us a snapshot of the elusive, as well as intriguing brain behind some of the most famous Baroque characteristics (note. the wig!)
I’m not so sure about this one of ‘man like George’…..
Sorry about that, I couldn’t help it.. Back to work-
We’ve now seen the classic Handel in work mode, I want to show you what I was really intrigued by. According to the music historian, John Hawkins, the best resemblance of Handel is his monument in Westminster Abbey, which the composer left 600 pounds to have designed by Louis-Francois Roubiliac. It was installed on the 15th of July 1762, halfway up a wall in the South Transept above his grave.
So, this is what the real Handel looks like-well! With no wig, we are given a clear insight into what the composer was like in his private time, here pictured with ‘I know that my redeemer liveth’ from Messiah-ultimate banger. I have been looking at this photo for a few minutes now, and this certainly seems that without the wig we can see a more real person, even if he is pointing at an angel in a cloud playing a harp!-we share similar traits then…
What I can’t help but mention is Handel’s nationality-I’ve only read the first 15 pages or so, but I just wanted to quote Blakeman to show you what interested me…
He starts outlining the contradictions in Handel’s birth and death date, then goes on to talk about his name…
Meanwhile, what’s in a name? The various forms of Handel, Haendel, Händel and Hendel are not in themselves surprising, but when you look inside the name you find that when he himself anglicised it, he signed George Frideric Handel….. Why didn’t he sign himself Frederick; why only anglicise two thirds of his name?
Here comes the interesting bit… with all this talk of German and English names,
..when the New Grove Dictionary of Music confidently begins its article by describing him as an ‘English composer of German birth’, perhaps it should also give an alternative; ‘German composer of English naturalisation’
How very interesting. ‘Or perhaps he should also give an alternative;’