Friday, February 23, 2007

Happy Birthday

...to George Frideric Handel, born in 1685. Born in Germany to a valet and barber, he studied law according to his father's wishes, even though his true passion was music, and he was clearly gifted. He jumped feet first into a musical career--well, more than a career, really--after his father died, and aren't we all grateful.

Handel moved to England in 1712 and became a permanent resident of London. As I read a brief biography of his, I thought how refreshing to learn a little something about an historic composer who wasn't an alcoholic, a drug addict, suicidal, or a narcissistic pig. And when he died, he wasn't buried in obscurity with his hundreds of manuscripts accidentally lost under some cathedral flooring--he was given full state honors at his funeral at Westminster Abbey with 3000 mourners attending.

Bach said of him, Handel "is the only person I would wish to see before I die, and the only person I would wish to be, were I not Bach." I'm sure this was meant as a compliment, but it struck me as quite odd. I'm no Bach, but still, I can't think of anyone I could say that about. There are plenty of people I would love to meet before I die--Jimmy Carter, Dennis Brain if he weren't already dead, Ina Garten especially if she is serving dinner--but I couldn't say "Harper Lee is the only person I would wish to be, were I not Robyn." Weird.

A couple of years ago, my orchestra performed Water Music, nice light stuff for following the King down the Thames. It has some pretty exposed and precise horn parts, and of course it was for one of those rehearsals when I was the only horn player to show. I hate that. I sat in my seat and contemplated vomiting and running home, but I stuck it out and played the stinking part all by myself--the lone brave horn player, the conductor called me. Sigh.

Anyway, happy birthday to Handel. Here is a snippet of Toccata.

5 comments:

Rich said...

handel is a favorite of mine. nice tribute to a fascinating composer and person of moral character.

Sassy Sundry said...

Happy Birthday, dear Handel. I'm glad I'm Sassy.

dive said...

Happy Birthday, GFH!
I used to love singing tenor in the Messiah (in fact I can still remember more of that from thirty years ago than I can of the last year) … Ah, old age …

molly said...

I love your horn stories :-) especially this one

lynn said...

Happy Birthday Handel! Lovely piece, Robyn.