When I think of Handel (1685 – 1759), there always comes to my mind his anthem ‘Zadok the Priest’ written especially for the coronation of George II of Great Britain (1683 – 1727). I like it, as it’s not very pompous but still sublime. I’m not going to analyze this work in depth, but only draw a small sketch of his artistic work.
Many people may not be aware that this German composer spent 47 years in Britain and composed for Queen Anne, and later for George I and George II. For example, he wrote the ‘Water Music’ especially for King George I so he could listen to it while he rode with his courtiers on the River Thames.
However, his life was not all roses. According to ‘About music, the most beautiful of arts’, by Boguslaw Smiechowski, Handel had problems with the courtly intrigues against him, as he was a foreigner. Also, his very serious competitor was the so-called Beggar’s Opera. Handel was even thinking about leaving Britain, but then he decided to start composing oratorios, one of them appeared to be incredibly successful – the ‘Messiah’. The oratorio is the best known for the ‘Hallelujah’ and it is said that this piece so impressed the king that stood up.
A few days ago, I presented several pieces of the above-mentioned oratorio to my 13 year old students, as I thought it would be a great prelude to this Easter season. Their reaction to this piece of art astonished me, as most of them sat listening intently to the music. So there is something timeless in this almost 300 year old music, as it can cause a child to stop for a moment in a world where almost everything is dictated by the media.