Baroque Handel Nuts about Handel

Nuts About Handel

About 9 months ago I went crazy over Handel. I didn’t know his music much at that point, but rapidly accumulated a few hundred downloads, burned 3 or 4 CD’s to play in my truck and did a bit of reading about his life.

At some point I started thinking, ‘Gosh – he might be as great as Bach.’ They were born in the same year (1685) and Handel lived 9 years longer – D. 1759. Writing this blog entry I was going to Google, “Handel and Bach who is the greatest?” You’re bound to be able to follow your nose through cyberspace and find lots of scholarly comparisons. But that takes all the fun out of it! So I decided to pass this Post onto someone who must be a Handel freak (because he uses the name Handel on a music forum I access now and again.) Probably the best Classical Music forum.

Hopefully in the next few days you’ll see a Comment regarding who is the ‘greatest’ (“Handel” from the Forum responding)  YES! Handel submitted a comment. (*see it above) Meanwhile here are a few pieces I like. There are two other posts that contain pieces by Handel – click on the link for Handel at the right.

This first piece: Trio sonata for 2 violins & continuo in G minor, Op. 2/8, HWV 393 (doubtful): Largo What you hear here! is a version adapted for oboe.

adaptation for oboe


Concerto grosso op-3 in g major-adagio


Concerto grosso in Bb, op.6 no. 7 Largo

  • Jim
    January 5, 2017 at 6:42 am

    WOW … Michael what a post. Thanks for sharing it. I’m going to check and see whether or not I have the Allegro Mov’t op. 6 no. 4 right now! And if I don’t I’ll go into cyberspace and get it! Thanks again.

  • Michael Hagan
    January 5, 2017 at 6:16 am

    Well of course I love Bach, his Art of Fugue, his Brandenburg concertos, his violin sonatas and partitas, his d minor harpsichord concerto, the list goes on and on. Bach is like life itself, simply there from the beginning, like parents, his bust on the shelf a fixed point of reference, a known majestic comfort we can always turn to when curious about genius or in need of heavenly sound. Handel is different. Handel is a discovery we stumble upon once we climb out from our crib. He’s the flower garden behind the house, the sky beyond our roof, the upturned rock in the forest that reveals musical gold so outrageous that once realized seems about as rich as any sound ever created. And with good reason! I am right this minute listening to the Allegro movement from Handel’s Op. 6 No. 4 Concerto Grosso in A minor, which is music so perfect and transcendent that I was inspired to seek out like-minded appreciators who have once or twice considered, at least momentarily, that YES, oh God YES, Handel IS better than Bach, better than everyone under the sun, the greatest, the lightest, the most joyous, the most inspired composer of all time, the master among masters who never grows old, who always delights, whose wit and flair and grandeur can forever be used as a resounding trump card to justify the existence of humankind. This feeling lasts a while, sometimes weeks, until I hear one of Bach’s concertos or orchestral suites and I’m drawn back home. They are both monumental titans, timeless creators, wondrous forces of nature. Imagine living life without ever really hearing them. My happiness would be diminished…oh joy, the Allegro Mov’t from Handel’s Op. 6, No. 5. Pure heaven!

    Thanks, Jim!

  • Muriel Wells
    June 5, 2010 at 11:25 am

    Hi Jim,
    I found the first comment so very interesting and informative.
    Well, I haven’t any technical expertise so can only describe the emotions and feelings Handel’s music evokes.
    He is definitely one of my favourite composers,but why is more difficult to answer!
    His music is so tuneful whether it’s “grand” or simple and the arias in his operas are so often very beautiful.
    Then I like what he does with the accompaniments to vocal works.He could also create feelings of suspense and awe, too, with his use of instruments eg. the initial build up in “Zadok the Priest”. He composed music suitable for the occasion—from Coronations to entertainments.
    For other works he is a master of setting the scene,and his oratorios, which I love, are treated as dramas as well as religious works.
    His instrumental works can enter the realm of sublime—I have been listening
    to those for the oboe, and many are too beautiful to describe in words!In short, he thoroughly understands the instruments that he uses and makes the most of their qualities—this goes for the voice, too. I especially like listening to a good Handelian tenor!

  • Handel
    January 19, 2008 at 4:06 am

    I’m a member of

    I wrote a short article for this forum on the greatness of Handel… Hope it brings light on the composer and his legacy.

    The greatness of Handel can be found if you don’t limit yourself at the style of the time. Other composers understood this greatness.

    Some quotes (FWIW) to start

    Mozart said that “Handel understands effect better than any of us — when he chooses, he strikes like a thunderbolt… though he often saunters, in the manner of his time, this is always something there”.

    Haydn: C’est William Shield qui écrit: J’en profitai pour lui demander ce qu’il pensait du choeur “The Nations tremble at the dreadfoul sound” de Josuah. Il me répondit qu’il s’y connaissait depuis longtemps en musique, mais qu’avant d’entendre ce choeur, il n’avait réalisé qu’à moitié la puissance qui pouvait être la sienne et que certainement seul un auteur inspiré avait pu ou pourrait concevoir une oeuvre aussi sublime. (from a Haydn biography)

    Translation: It’s William Shield who wrote: I asked to Haydn what he was thinking of the “The Nations tremble at the dreadfoul sound” chorus from Josuah. Haydn said that before listening this chorus, he only realized the half of its the power and that only an inspired author could conceive a sublime work like this one.

    Beethoven: “Go to him to learn how to achieve great effects, by such simple means” (e.g. Beethoven was amazed by the simplicity/efficacy of Handel’s funeral march from Saul).

    These quotes sum the main reasons why I like Handel’s music and makes it great.

    1- Let’s begin why the effects. He had great dramatic gifts. He knew how to use them. For the only purpose of the drama, he often went further than the operatic rules would permit. This dramatic sense can even be seen in his instrumental music.

    But more than that, he was a keen psychologist. More than anyone composer during baroque era he develop characters in his operas/oratorios/cantatas who showed nature of human being with his qualities and flaws. His singers were not only high vocal performer (as the public wanted at this time), but characters having real feelings. On this aspect, he was the Mozart of baroque era.

    2- Let’s talk about his music’s power. Many say that they find Handel too pompous. Even if Handel had to compose official music who could sound pompous, many people lack to understand that what they call pomp can be might. (And it starts to the fact that Handel is still unknown. Many people do not go further than Water Music and Fireworks Music. It easy to judge a compose when you only listen those 2 works).

    Hope it gave you a better understanding of the composer, and the man as well.