GEORG FRIDERIC HANDEL: A Reappraisal of His Life and Work by Paul Henry Lang
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GEORG FRIDERIC HANDEL: A Reappraisal of His Life and Work

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The noted musicologist Paul Henry Lang seeks in this ""reappraisal"" ""to examine matters that influenced Handel's development and art and that may explain how this man, whose life was so much of a piece, could touch the extremes of obloquy and veneration, and how the German immigrant became England's national composer."" Born in 1685 in Germany, he spent his youth in Italy, realm of paganism and pathos in opera, spent his maturity in England, where he became the ranking composer, leaving after a time Italian opera for English oratorio and bringing it to its apex, died there in 1759, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. Lang pretty much takes the man as he finds him (the preacher and the psychoanalyst would not find much satisfaction in Handel;) he reserves his probing of influences essentially for the music. He details the plots of all the operas and oratorios, refers to the Greek and French, Italian and English influences in analysis. He portrays Handel not as an innovator (he used old forms, he borrowed) but a perfecter, as an artist; as a man, at once religious and opportunistic, the dramatist whose life was ""a stern drama"" in which the man of genius was in conflict with a variety of forces. The author is at his best conveying the intellectual and artistic life of the times and bringing them to bear on his subject. A musical life of scholarly dimension that will become the standard.

Pub Date: Sept. 23rd, 1966
Publisher: Norton