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George Frideric Handel 1685 - 1759

HANDEL: Whether I was in my body or out of my body, as I wrote the Messiah I know not. God knows.

Allegro Maestoso (Water Music Suite 2)
Allegro Maestoso
(Water Music Suite 2)
George Frideric Handel by Thomas Hudson (1749) Said the German-British Baroque composer, George Frideric Handel.  He is famous for his operas, oratorios, and concertos.

He was born in Germany in the same year as Johann Sebastian Bach and Domenico Scarlatti.  He received critical musical training in Italy before settling in London and becoming a naturalised British subject.  His works include Messiah, Water Music, and Music for the Royal Fireworks.

He was strongly influenced by the techniques of the great composers of the Italian Baroque and the middle-German polyphonic Choral tradition.  His music was well-known to Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven.

According to the Storyteller in Ireland, a novel by Frank Delaney:

The Messiah
The Messiah
The Great Music Hall
Fishamble Street, Dublin,
The only man who could handle Handel was a man called Jimmy Hanly. Dublin was always a great city for the music. The first performance of Handel's masterpiece the Messiah was in Dublin. The English in Dublin, at that time, wanted Mr Handel to give concerts for prisoners.

Now Jimmy Hanly's brother was in prison, without any trial, for stealing an orange. Jimmy wanted Handel to say something about the prisoners being unjustly imprisoned, before he started conducting. But Jimmy was poor and in ragged clothes and it was impossible for him to get to see Handel. Meanwhile Handel wanted to leave Dublin, but he could not because there was a storm at sea and no ship would leave harbour. Handel grumbled to himself.
HANDEL: (LOUD AND ANGRY) There isn't a thing I can do!
STORYTELLER: Meanwhile Jimmy had made friends with Rose, a servant girl at the house.
JIMMY: How's Mr Handel, Rose?
ROSE: He's beside himself. We're all mad from him.
JIMMY: Mad? Why so because?
ROSE: He's like a bear, so he is, he's walking up and down 'cause he wants to go back to England and the weather's too bad. And he's in an awful bad temper and that has everyone real worried.
JIMMY: Ah, we all get that way betimes.
ROSE: But they're all desperate worried because Mr Handel, he had a stroke, and they're afraid he'll have another one, and if he does while he's in their house, what'll the King say? I mean, they don't care if he has a stroke and dies on the boat going back to England, so long as he doesn't die on them.
JIMMY: That's not very nice of them.
(PAUSE) D'you know what, Rose? My father had a stroke, an he didn't die of it. And d'you know why he didn't die of it? Cause I was there.
And I stopped him getting a second stroke.
ROSE: Ya did not.
JIMMY: Go down Henrietta Street and ask anyone and they'll tell you, how Jimmy Hanley stopped his father dying of a second stroke.
That's God's honest truth.
STORYTELLER: The next morning the German gentleman was worse than ever, pacing the place, and effing and blinding or whatever they did in them days.
Rose spoke to her mistress:
ROSE: Ma'am, a friend of mine, I hope I'm not speaking above my station, Ma'am, he told me he kept his father alive after getting a stroke and he stopped him getting a second stroke.
MISTRESS: How did he do it? For I'd give a lot to know that secret.
ROSE: Ma'am, I'll ask him.
STORYTELLER: That evening she did so.
ROSE: Your father and the stroke - how did ya do it?
JIMMY: Who wants to know?
ROSE: My lady, 'cause she's only demented from Mr Handel. He's worse every day, and last night he went without his breath for a minute, nearly purple he was.
JIMMY: This isn't something I can tell anyone. It's only something I can do.
ROSE: I dunno. Everybody's gone out from him, his temper is so bad.
JIMMY: Tell everyone they've only got a few days left, in my opinion, before his heart bursts and he has another stroke.
STORYTELLER: Rose told her mistress, and her mistress went pale and reported to her husband.
THE MASTER: Bring that fella in. He can't do worse than the people that's gone before him.
STORYTELLER: Jimmy was brought into the grand house in his poor clothes and was looking about him when he heard a loud voice with a German accent.
HANDEL: What are looking at?
JIMMY: I'm looking at these gorgeous things.
HANDEL: Are you planning to steal them?
JIMMY: Whoever you are, sir, let me tell you the only thing Jimmy Hanly ever stole was his own father's life. And the person from whom he stole it was Death himself.
STORYTELLER: The man with the big voice on him, a big stomach from eating truffles and a red nose , came out of a room.
HANDEL: What's your name?
JIMMY: Hanly.
HANDEL: Handel?
JIMMY: No, sir, you're Handel right enough. And I'm Hanly. But we might be related.
HANDEL: No, we're not related. I'm from Germany and you're not.
JIMMY: Ah sure, sir, we're all related under God.
HANDEL: Leave God out of it. I'm annoyed with him.
JIMMY: Why has He annoyed you,sir? And what has happened to your arm?
JIMMY: But that's what my father had, sir. He had a stroke.
HANDEL: Your Father? Whose life you say you stole back from Death?
JIMMY: One and the same man.
HANDEL: Come in here, and sit down beside me, and tell me how you did it, for I'm half out of my mind that I'll get another stroke and that it'll finish me.
But I seem to be doing everything I can to bring it on me.
JIMMY: Isn't that always the case? We're always trying to cause the one thing we should be trying to stop.
HANDEL: Let me think about that. It seems to me a very wise statement. (PAUSE)
I'd ask you if you'd like a cup of tea only there's nobody here to make it for us.
JIMMY: I thought this house was full of people, and I know for a fact that my friend, Rose is here, for it was her, brung me in.
HANDEL: I think I've frightened everybody away.
JIMMY: A nice man like you, sir? Ah, no, not at all. There must be some other reason. I'll go and find Rose.
STORYTELLER: And so Jimmy made Handel relax, so much so that Handel said to his host and hostess that he wanted Jimmy to start the very next morning as his clerk for as long as hed be staying in Dublin. They agreed and they asked Jimmy to come early so that they could dress him decently. The next morning the German gentleman is sitting up in bed and he's humming like a rail that's expecting a train.
JIMMY: Good morning, sir. How are you this morning?
HANDEL: Is this my cousin? I'm glad to see that you know a good suit of clothes when you see one.
JIMMY: Now, sir, it's still raining out there and the wind is blowing like a pair of bellows. So you can't sail today. The weather is going to be bad for at least another week because the birds are flying upside down.

HANDEL: Flying upside down! That's very funny. You're the only one round here understands anything. The others only gives me good news. They do it to please me, but the thing about writing music, is you have to tell people about the bad news as well as the good.
JIMMY: Oh? Did I walk in on you, sir, while you're writing music?
HANDEL: If only you had.
JIMMY: But isn't that your job like? Writing music?
HANDEL: I can't write. I've nothing to write about.
JIMMY: Haven't you the whole wide world to write about?
HANDEL: Cousin Jimmy, isn't that why I'm annoyed with God? He won't let me do it.
JIMMY: Mr Handel, I know how to fix that.
HANDEL: If you do, I'll make sure that the next piece of music I write will be performed first here in your own native city, Dublin.
JIMMY: Very good. You say God's not listening to you - so I say, make Him listen.
HANDEL: My prayers have a broken wing these days.
JIMMY: This is what you do. Stop praying to God, and write about Him. You're having a bit of difficulty getting God's attention, so why don't you write about His family?
HANDEL: Are you serious?
JIMMY: yes. Easy enough too. He had only the one son and no daughter. And the family story is well known.
STORYTELLER: Handel climbed out of bed.
HANDEL: Wherever I am during the next few days and weeks make sure you're nearby.


by Philip Mercier
Handel started work that very morning. For three weeks he rose at cockcrow, had Jimmy sharpen all his quills and line up music paper on the floor beside his desk.

He wrote like an engine, and while he wrote his nature changed - people couldn't believe the difference in him. He hummed, he sang, he laughed, and several times a day he'd say to Jimmy Hanly:

Isn't that sublime?

Only sublime, sir.
STORYTELLER: Once or twice Jimmy would put in his oar, and Handel would listen and nod.
HANDEL: Yes. That's a good idea.
STORYTELLER: And he'd scribble faster. From time to time Jimmy'd make him stop and he'd lead Handel over to the wall, and he's say:
JIMMY: Now put your poor hand on the wall there and make your fingers crawl up and down.
STORYTELLER: And everyday he'd make Handel's hand climb a little higher, because all the time he was getting the gentleman to exercise the arm that had the stroke in it. And the gentleman composed his work better and better.
Half way through the composition he said to Jimmy:
HANDEL: We're going to need a big choir.
JIMMY: That's no bother. There's a grand stack of singers over at St. Patrick's Cathedral.
STORYTELLER: And so, as the Bible says, it came to pass, a gala night, one of the most famous nights in Dublin - the first night of the Messiah.


Afterwards Mr. Handel spoke from the podium.
HANDEL: This oratorio is for the relief of prisoners in Dublin's jails so's they can have decent food. And I have to say to you, we'd need a lot less money for relief if we weren't packing the jails with youngsters, who are only accused of stealing an apple or an orange.
STORYTELLER: Jimmy's brother was released outa jail the next day. After that Jimmmy was given a job as butler to Handel's hosts and was pointed out throughout Dublin as 'The Only Man Who Could Handle Handel'.

The Great Composers


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