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Georg Friedrich Handel was one of the most accomplished Baroque composers in his time Born in Halle Germany in 1685 he was the son of a wealthy barber who wanted his son to become a lawyer However he displayed such musical aptitude with the harpsichord organ oboe counterpoint and fugue he became an assistant with Friedrich Zachav organist of the cathedral of Halle However Handel entered the University of Halle but quickly withdrew and left for the University of Hamburg to study music In 1706 Handel journeyed to Italy to further enhance his music While there he was greatly influenced by Alessandro Scarlatti and Arcangelo Corelli Then in 1710 Handel was appointed Kapellmeister or Musical Director to the Elector of Hanover and received a commission to write an opera for London Italian opera was all the rage in London and Handels soon became a quick success However Handel greatly longed for being in England and returned in 1712 London provided a generous audience for Handel and from 1712 to 1741 he produced thirty-six operas In 1713 Te Deum and a Jubilate was performed by Handel at St Pauls Cathedral London to celebrate the Peace of Utrecht Queen Anne also granted Handel a handsome lifetime pension of two hundred pounds per year Including Water Music for George I which was first performed in 1715 on the Thames at London While most of Handels operas were based on either historical mythological or legendary subjects Serse was one of his rare endeavors into comedy Handels operas were all sung in Italian and adhere to the musical conventions of the day There is little use of choruses or large ensembles since one of the main objectives of this genre called opera seria is the demonstration of vocal ability by individual singers Also for 18th century audiences the main attraction in Handels operas lay in the incredible feats of the castrati male singers whose soprano voices had been surgically preserved
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