Jonathan Keates

A Composer & a Gentleman

George Frideric Handel: A Life with Friends

By

W W Norton 496pp £25 order from our bookshop

Throughout a long life, George Frideric Handel consistently bucked the stereotype of the 18th-century composer. Except very briefly, and even then as a mere stepping stone to greater opportunities, he never clocked in as a church organist or a court capellmeister. As nobody’s humble servant, he spent as little time as necessary dancing attendance on royalty and nobility. Marchese Ruspoli, his patron during two years spent in Rome, treated him as an honoured guest rather than a household musician and when, in his first phase of working in London, he wrote a set of anthems for the Duke of Chandos, richest and proudest of Augustan aristocrats, the benefit to each of them was clearly seen as mutual.

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