The baroque period was characterized by a heroic, dramatic and emotional theme. With well know names like Rembrant, Bach, Pennini, Caravaggio, Bernini, Tintoretto, Velasques, Poussin, Handel, and Rubens, the period produced many popular pieces of music and art. The art of the period was filled with movement, light versus shadow, and the use of the whole surface. The composers incorporated new ideas into their music such as different major and minor scales, the use of the violin, a regular rhythm, a melody that was hard to sing to, terrace dynamics, the basso continuo, and instrumental music was now considered as good as vocal music. The baroque period was an important piece of history in the shaping of the music and art world.
George Frideric Handel was a composer of amazing talents and abilities. Although in today’s society he is not as well known as Bach, his work was kept in high regards by the people of the time. Both Handel and Bach were born in 1685 about a month apart, and together the world was stunned by the masterpieces created by these great minds. Handel, being born on February 23, in Halle, Germany, was not from a musical family. As a child he was introduced to the harpsichord by his aunt, and soon after he began to practice the art that he loved. His father showed no interest in Handel’s music and disowned him saying, " Then let him be a clown, a tightrope walker, a minstrel or a bear trainer!" On a business trip, Handel accompanied his father to the city of Weissenfels, where he happened to slip away into the town church, and began to play an improvised rendition of the postlude to the service. After seeing the remarkable talent of the young boy, the duke of the church persuaded Handel’s father that "…to ignore this talent would be a sin against God."2 Handel began his lesson with Duke Zackow soon after, being instructed in the playing of the organ, the harpsichord, and the violin. At the age of 17, Handel experienced the loss of his father. He would quickly move on and enroll as a law student t Halle University. Shortly after beginning school, he became the organist at the protestant cathedral.
After a year of school, Handel moved on into the world of the theatre. Handel was inspired to attempt his hand in composing an opera. Almira was Handel’s first attempt at an opera, and was warmly welcomed by the audience. Almira was characterized by a nondescript libretto, German recitatives, and a small amount of Italian arias.2 This work was recognized by even the greatest of composers, notably Bach who admired the opera and borrowed part to put in his own works. The popularity of his first opera convinced Handel to write a second. Handel immediately followed up his first work by writing his second opera, Nero. unlike the first opera, this one was a complete failure, only being preformed three times. Although Nero was a failure, Handel pursued his career as an opera writer with such works as Agrippina, Joshua, and Israel in Egypt.
Handle would move on to new and different types of music including many oratorios such as Handel’s famous Messiah written in 1741. The Messiah is a piece lasting two and one half hours long and amazingly composed in only 24 days. Messiah was first preformed in Dublin, Ireland in 1742. The piece was very popular after it’s premier, convincing Handel to take it to bigger and better places. He moved on, taking the Messiah into London, England. The first performance of the Messiah in London was poorly received by the audience due mostly because of religious opposition to the use of a Christian text in the theatre. Finally, after ten years of unpopularity, it began to become desirable in London. The Messiah consists of three parts. The first part begins with angels announcement of the Messiah’s coming arrival and the birth of Christ. The second part has been described as "…the accomplishment of redemption by the sacrifice of Jesus, mankind’s rejection of God’s offer and mankind’s utter defeat when trying to oppose the power of the Almighty." The third part shows the need for faith in Christ as our Redeemer.3 The Messiah