Tuesday, April 14, 2009

George Frideric Handel

250 years ago today the composer George Handel (1685-1759) died. It was the day before Easter. If Handel had had his way, he would have postponed his death by just one day, as he desired to "meet his good God, his sweet Lord and Savior, on the day of his Resurrection."

He is most famous, of course, for composing Messiah, a Lenten oratorio on Jesus' life and its meaning. He began composing it on August 22, 1741, after experiencing bankruptcy, depression, and a stroke. He composed the entire 260 pages in only 24 days, hardly leaving his room and rarely eating his meals. It has stood the test of time as one of the greatest artistic achievements, meeting the Christian aesthetic ideal of displaying truth, glory, and beauty.

A question for readers familiar with Handel's work: is there a particular recording of Messiah that you recommend?