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"And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful."
Colossians 3:15


This quiz is for fun and information only. There is no score given or kept.
... But Handel’s harmony affects the soul,
To sooth by sweetness, or by force controul;
And with like sounds as tune the rolling spheres,
So tunes the mind, that ev’ry sense has ears.
When jaundice jealousy, and carking care,
Or tyrant pride, or homicide despair,
The soul as on a rack in torture keep,
Those monsters Handel’s music lulls to sleep.
an anonymous poem in
The Gentleman's Magazine
(May 1740)
The information contained on this page is based on
The American Handel Society

1
When was Handel born?

February 23, 1685
Handel's contemporaries believed Handel's birthdate was 23 February 1684. This spurious birthdate was miscalculated under the incorrect assumption that Handel was born under the old Julian calendar. Rather, at the time of his birth in Saxony/Magdeburg, the new Gregorian calendar was already in use there. Dates using the Julian calendar placed the beginning dates of a year (up through March 25 — the day the "new year" began in the Julian calendar) as dates from the previous year.
2
When did Handel die?

April 14, 1759
. Almost blind, and having lived in England for nearly fifty years, he died in 1759, a respected and rich man. His funeral was given full state honors, and he was buried in Westminster Abbey.
3
In what country was Handel born?

Germany
Handel was christened in Halle (Germany) as Georg Friederich Händel, although he first signed his name using an alternative spelling for his middle name Friedrich. In many European countries today the German form of his name remains prevalent, even though he himself discarded the umlaut at an early age.
4
In what country did Handel spend most of his life?

England
In 1712, Handel decided to settle permanently in England.
5
Handel's father wanted his son to work in what vocation? Answer Law

Law
According to Handel's first biographer, John Mainwaring, he "had discovered such a strong propensity to Music, that his father who always intended him for the study of the Civil Law, had reason to be alarmed. He strictly forbade him to meddle with any musical instrument but Handel found means to get a little clavichord privately convey'd to a room at the top of the house. To this room he constantly stole when the family was asleep".[9] At an early age Handel became a skilful performer on the harpsichord and pipe organ.[10]
6
Handel played the harpsichord and what other instrument in the orchestra of the opera house in Hamburg?

Violin
In 1702, following his father's wishes, Handel started studying law under Christian Thomasius at the University of Halle. He earned an appointment for one year as the organist in the former cathedral, by then an evangelical reformed church. Handel seems to have been unsatisfied, and in 1703 he accepted a position as violinist and harpsichordist in the orchestra of the Hamburg Opera am Gänsemarkt.
7
In what year were his first two operas produced?

1708

8
In 1717, Handel's Water Music was first performed for a water party on the Thames as a reconciliation between Handel and whom?

King George I of Great Britain

9
What happened to Handel in April, 1737, at the age of 52.

He had a stroke
In April 1737, at age 52, Handel apparently suffered a stroke which disabled the use of four fingers on his right hand, preventing him from performing. In summer the disorder seemed at times to affect his understanding. Nobody expected that Handel would ever be able to perform again. But whether the affliction was rheumatism, a stroke or a nervous breakdown, he recovered remarkably quickly . To aid his recovery, Handel had travelled to Aachen, a spa in Germany. During six weeks he took long hot baths, and ended up playing the organ for a surprised audience
10
Where was Messiah first performed?

Dublin
Handel continued to live a dramatic and productive life during the 1740s, writing diverse works such as Biblical dramatic oratorios (Samson, Belshazzar, Solomon), secular music dramas based on Greek classical tragedies (Semele and Hercules) and patriotic concert works (Judas Maccbaeus). However, life wasn't easy for him. At various times, he was severely criticized by the some voices of the English social establishment for his artistic endeavours - some had considered Italian operas ridiculous, but now others believed that presented Biblical concert dramas or musical settings of scripture was profane. For example, his famous oratorio Messiah was enthusiastically received at its première (Dublin, 1742) whereas it became the subject of great controversy following its London début a year later.
11
When was Messiah first performed?

April 13, 1742

12
How many singers were in the first performance of Messiah?

26 boys and 5 men

13
Where was Handel buried?

Westminster Abbey
He died at home in Brook Street, at age 74. The last performance he attended was of Messiah. Handel was buried in Westminster Abbey. More than three thousand mourners attended his funeral, which was given full state honors.
14
Who said of Handel that he was "the master of us all... the greatest composer that ever lived. I would uncover my head and kneel before his tomb. Go to him to learn how to achieve great effects, by such simple means."

Beethoven

15
Why do most audiences stand when the "Hallelujah Chorus" is performed?

The king stood when he heard it.
It is difficult to provide a definitive answer on this subject, because the evidence is sketchy. The following anecdote wasn't published until 1780; approximately 40 years after the event is reported to have occurred:"...When Messiah was first performed in London (1743), when the chorus struck up, 'For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth' ['Hallelujah Chorus'), reportedly the audience and King [George II] stood and remained standing untill the chorus had ended..."Sources: Biographica Dramatica: "On the authority of the Earl of Kinnoul"; quoted in G. Hogarth: Musical History, Biography and Criticism (1838) and James Beattie (1780)In short, we cannot be certain King George II was even present at this performance of Messiah. Assuming he was present and that he was the first to stand, we certainly cannot adequately speculate on what motivated him to do this. There are other theories, but it is possible that the tradition of standing for the 'Hallelujah' chorus was not connected directly to Handel's own performances in any way.
16
Messiah is presented in three parts. Part I (the Christmas portion) starts with the prophecy and coming of Christ. Part II (the Easter portion) describes the passion and death of Christ. What is the theme of Part III?"

Promise of eternal life for believers.

17
The tenor soloist is coming to the end of the air "Thou shalt break them" and we are preparing for what is undoubtedly the best known chorus in the oratorio, the chorus "Hallelujah." What occurrence could distract the singers during the first few bars of the chorus?

The arising of the audience for the duration of the chorus.

18
We've just finished "For unto us a Child is born" and we get to take a breather, thanks to the orchestra. What does the orchestra play following this chorus?"

The Pastoral Symphony.

19
In what capital city did Handel die?

London
He died in 1759 at home in Brook Street, at age 74. The last performance he attended was of Messiah. Handel was buried in Westminster Abbey. More than three thousand mourners attended his funeral, which was given full state honours. Handel never married, and kept his personal life private. His initial will bequeathed the bulk of his estate to his niece Johanna, however four codicils distributed much of his estate to other relations, servants, friends and charities.
20
In 1753 what permanent disability did Handel suffer?

Blindness
In August 1750, on a journey back from Germany to London, Handel was seriously injured in a carriage accident between The Hague and Haarlem in the Netherlands. In 1751 one eye started to fail. The cause was a cataract which was operated on by the great charlatan Chevalier Taylor. This did not improve his eyesight, but possibly made it worse
21
True or False: The first vocal piece in "Messiah" is a chorus.

False

22
What is the first chorus in the libretto of "Messiah"?

And The Glory Of The Lord

23
Part Two begins with the chorus "Behold the Lamb of God". Where in the Bible is this verse found?

John

24
In Part Two, the text for several pieces is taken from the passage in Scripture that describes the Suffering Servant. From which book of the Bible is this taken?

Isaiah

25
From which book of the Bible is the text of the chorus "Hallelujah" taken?

Revelation

26
Part Three starts with the soprano aria, "I Know That My Redeemer Liveth". From which books of the Bible is this taken?

Job and I Corinthians

27
True or False: The chorus "Hallelujah" is the last piece in Messiah.

False

28
True or False: The work was composed for a church service.

False. It was written for the theater.
The establishment of Messiah as a venerated English institution for Christmas and Choral Societies has a long and complicated history. A few excerpts are familiar to almost everybody, unlike any other work by its prolific and misunderstood composer. Messiah remains Handel's best known work, although this was not a status that it enjoyed until the last few years of his life, brought about by annual performances in Handel's oratorio seasons and charitable benefit concerts at the Foundling Hospital (an organisation for underprivileged children, and which still exists today as The Thomas Coram Foundation). It was not originally envisaged as a Christmas tradition, but its microcosm of Christian doctrine and faith was intended as a timely thought-provoker for Lent and Easter.
29
True or False: Handel first performed the piece on Christmas Eve, 1742.

False. It was first performed during Lent.
The establishment of Messiah as a venerated English institution for Christmas and Choral Societies has a long and complicated history. A few excerpts are familiar to almost everybody, unlike any other work by its prolific and misunderstood composer. Messiah remains Handels best known work, although this was not a status that it enjoyed until the last few years of his life, brought about by annual performances in Handels oratorio seasons and charitable benefit concerts at the Foundling Hospital (an organisation for underprivileged children, and which still exists today as The Thomas Coram Foundation). It was not originally envisaged as a Christmas tradition, but its microcosm of Christian doctrine and faith was intended as a timely thought-provoker for Lent and Easter. The popularity of the work grew through events such as the Handel Centenary Commemoration (Westminster Abbey, 1784) and huge-scale Victorian epics typified by thousands of performers crammed into the Crystal Palace. All such events progressively strayed further from Handels musical world, attempting to make choirs and orchestras ridiculously large, often with new parts created for extra instruments. However, ill advised improvements grew to such an extent that by the 19th century editors and conductors had distorted Messiah beyond its Handelian origin. It is such misunderstanding that led Berlioz to describe Handels music as a barrel of roast pork and beer - the French innovator of romanticised orchestration obviously failed to recognise a kindred brilliance that radiates from so much of Handels original score. The overwhelming popularity of Messiah not only led to a misconception of Handels musical character and artistic intentions, but also eclipsed almost every other work he composed except the Water Music and Fireworks Music - both also highly un-typical of his orchestral abilities. Handel, arguably the most cosmopolitan and versatile theatrical composer of the baroque period, was born and trained in Germany, achieved mastery and success in every musical genre while in Italy, and then settled for nearly five decades in England, during which time he assimilated all those nations musical styles and specialised in operas and oratorios. These oratorios were almost always dramatic narratives, functioning like English operas composed for concert performances in theatres such as Covent Garden. Most are based on Biblical or religious stories, but some, such as Semele and Hercules, are blatantly secular. Even Messiah, which does not tell a story in conventional terms and is therefore unlike almost all other baroque oratorios, amply demonstrates Handel abilities as an operatic composer. The libretto for Messiah was designed and selected from the New and Old Testaments with utmost care by Charles Jennens (1700—73), a literary scholar and editor of Shakespeares plays who was educated at Balliol College, Oxford. However, despite his merit and ability, Jennens never gained his Degree or much recognition from society because he was a non-juror, refusing to acknowledge the Hanoverian dynasty as legitimate heirs to the throne of England. Yet Jennens could not be a Jacobite (i.e. a supporter of the deposed Catholic Stuarts) either because he was staunchly Protestant. Such figures are often forgotten by the over-simplification of history, but Jennens upper-middle class background enabled him to live in some comfort at a fine house in Gospall, Leicestershire, and devote his time to artistic pursuits in the absence of a prominent public life. Jennens had been a known admirer of Handels music since 1725, when he commenced regular subscriptions for publications of Handels music by ordering a copy of Rodelinda. By the mid-1730s Jennens became personally acquainted with Handel, and before Messiah had already furnished Handel with texts for the dramatic oratorio Saul (1738), collaborted on the extensive masque LAllegro, il Penseroso ed il moderato (1740), and later also provided the text for the striking masterpiece Belshazzar (1744). It is also now suspected that Jennens may have been involved with Handels only other scriptural oratorio Israel in Egypt (1738). Despite a difficult working relationship - Handel later preferred to collaborate with lesser but more amiable writers - Jennens remained a life-long admirer and supporter of Handels music. His own personal library of Handel manuscripts, the Aylesford Collection (now held at Manchester Central Library), was copied by Handels assistants from the autograph scores, and remains a priceless resource for Handel scholars. Messiah was composed at Handels usual quick speed, but was premiered a year later in Dublin without Jennenss involvement. Handel appears to have been reluctant to present such a sacred subject matter in a London theatre, which seems wise considering the Bishop of Londons outrage in 1732 when cathedral choristers had sung in Esther. The theatre, and Handels music, were still perceived by many ecclesiastics as profane and subversive. Even Dean Jonathan Swift, a cranky old man with Gullivers Travels long behind him, almost prevented the Dublin performance by threatening to forbid singers from St. Patricks Cathedral to take part. Swift relented, but the contention Messiah aroused was still considerable enough to persuade Handel that the London premiere, a year later, should be advertised under the title A Sacred Oratorio, thus avoiding any charge of blasphemy.
30
Did Handel compose Christmas carols?

Yes
Indirectly, yes...John Foster (1762-1822, of High Green House, Yorkshire) composed While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night by adapting the aria 'Non vi piacque, ingiusti Dei' from Handel's opera Siroe. Many versions of Hark! the Herald Angels Sing were composed during the 18th Century. Edward Miller (1735-1807, Doncaster) composed a version by arranging 'See, the Conqu'ring Hero Comes' from Handel's oratorio Judas Maccabaeus.Thomas Taylor (Chester) reworked the harpsichord suite The Harmonious Blacksmith to yield Hymning Seraphs Wake the Morn.Joy to the World was not composed by Handel. The tune first appeared in the early 1830's in English tune-books. William Holford revised the tune and published it (which he called Comfort) in the mid-1830's and attributed it to Handel because of the tunes' resemblance to the opening phrases of the choruses Lift Up Your Heads and Glory to God from Messiah. The American composer Lowell Mason (1792-1872) in 1839 retained the attribution to Handel, changed the tune-name to Antioch, and united it with Isaac Watt's hymn [i.e., text] for the first time. Thus, Joy to the World was born. For further listening, Hyperion Records Ltd. released a recording which features some of these works.