Handel in Italy

This month David Woodbridge gave a very interesting presentation about George Frederik Handel. Although we tend to think of him as having spent his life in England and therefore have adopted him as an English composer, Handel actually spent three very formative years in Italy in his early twenties. His music was greatly influenced by the Italian Renaissance and his exposure to Italian baroque music in particular.

David accompanied his talk with extracts from a variety of music by Italian composers.  He began with Palestrina, Monteverdi and Corelli who had influences on Handel. Then he went on to talk about Handel himself and his years spent in Italy in Rome, Florence, Naples and Venice with explanations and notes about each piece of music.

Following on from the three Italian composers, David then concentrated on works by Handel, starting with an extract from the opera Scilla.  This was followed by the overture to the Triumph of Time and Truth. Then we listened to the opening numbers of Dixit Dominus and Nisi Dominus from the Carmelite Vespers After that we heard an extract from Rodrigo, written in Florence, Acis and Galatea, written in Naples and Agrippina composed in Venice.  The final extract was the aria Tra le Fiamme from a Secula Cantata.  Before each piece, David told us what we should look out for in that particular item, whether it was a particular instrument or perhaps the structure of the piece.

Throughout David demonstrated his considerable knowledge of and love for Baroque music.  Perhaps he can be persuaded to give a similar talk on some other composer in the future!

Ros Martin Hall

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