George Frideric Handel was born Georg Friedrich Händel, in Halle, Germany
on February 23, 1685. His father was initially opposed to his composing
career, and he studied law at university in 1702.
However, he left for Hamburg the following year and became an instrumentalist (violin, harpsichord) at the opera there. Later, he travelled in Italy (1706-1709), and began to write operas and other works, and to gain a reputation playing the harpsichord. He was hired as Kapellmeister by the Elector of Hanover in 1710.
It was at this time that Händel began to take leaves to London, where
he eventually settled, in 1712. From this point, he never returned to
his post in Hanover, receiving a life pension from Queen Anne. His former
boss, the Elector of Hanover, became George I upon Anne’s death, and doubled
He continued to write operas, with oratorios becoming more important, until 1741 when he concentrated almost completely on oratorio writing. Messiah was performed for the first time in Dublin, in 1742. It is considered by many to be his greatest triumph, and the success of the work led to Handel composing many more oratorios.