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George Frideric Handel (1685–1759), born in Germany as Georg Friedrich Handel, was an English composer of the Baroque era celebrated for his oratorio Messiah. Whereas his contemporary J.S.Bach composed mostly sacred music, Handel composed mostly secular music in genres becoming popular in his lifetime, such as the opera and the oratorio. By 1705 he had produced two operas in Hamburg; he spent the next four years in Italy, where he absorbed Italian style. Moving to England in 1712, he wrote music, including the celebrated Water Music (1717), for King George I. He presented operas in London until 1741. Among his 46 operas are Julius Caesar (1724), Atalanta (1736), and Serse (1738), with its tenor aria now known as Largo.
Handel also composed about 100 Italian solo cantatas; numerous orchestral works, among them the Twelve Grand Concertos (1739); harpsichord suites; organ concertos; and the anthem "Zadok, the Priest" (1727), used at all British coronations since that of George II. The organ concerto, as a genre, was actually invented by Handel together with and to supplement his greater innovation—the English oratorio, of which Messiah is the most famous example. The Organ Concerto No. 4 in F Major (1735) was probably first heard during the oratorio Deborah or Athalia. Messiah itself was presented in Dublin in 1742. Its contemplative character sets it apart from the rest of his 32 oratorios, which also include Acis and Galatea (1720), Esther (1732), Saul (1739), and Judas Maccabeus (1747).
Vocal Works Performed by the San Francisco Bach Choir
I will magnify thee, HWV 250a
Let God arise, HWV 256a
O sing unto the Lord a new song, HWV 249b
Questo è il cielo di contenti (from Alcina)
The Lord is my light, HWV 255