Archive for July, 2012

Handel, the Rock Star

Sir Handel & one of his many ‘Power Ballads’


By all accounts, Handel was a Rock Star—or whatever the equivalent of that would’ve been during the 18th century. His music was interesting, exciting, catchy (to the extent of being infectious!) & thus popular, sophisticated & yet to-the-point. It was deceptively complex & yet simple enough for other great & notable composers of the day to admirably often ponder “why didn’t I think of that?!”


He had “bling” (mostly in the form of an impressive art collection); his skills were in high demand—by the richest of the rich in Europe–& they gladly paid him for it.  Handel was born in Halle, northern Germany, but he eventually came to consider himself more of an Englishman—as England was where his highest paying & most respected gigs were.


Like a rock star, he ‘toured’ throughout many parts of Europe—at a time when traveling wasn’t as easy as getting on a plane or a train, or into an automobile. He lived & worked (& studied) in Italy for a time, mainly in the Opera world—which was kind of like what our Hollywood is today. There he was greatly influenced by Arcangelo Corelli (who was about 20 years older than him)—especially with regards to writing music in the form of the ‘Concerto Grosso’ (in which the musical material is passed between a small group of soloists—not just a single soloist–& full orchestra). Handel wrote HIS Concerti Grossi (plural; opus 6)—61 complete pieces of music scored for full string orchestra—in only a little better than a month’s time! As noted earlier, he also then lived extensively in England–& eventually even changed his citizenship, from German to become a naturalized English citizen. It was there that he wrote & performed his infamous ‘Water Music’ & ‘Music for the Royal Fireworks’, etc—often to erupting crowds of thousands.


But similar to Corelli, Handel considered his music to be more that just mere entertainment; it was high quality craftsmanship to be admired, studied & imitated for the future generations.              Thankfully!


Direct link to video on Youtube


Handel also had a bit of a Rock Star Ego.  Born in the same year as J.S. Bach (1685) & having grown up within only 50 miles of him, ironically the 2 never met. Bach apparently tried to get an audience with Handel at least once, but to no avail. There is no apparent evidence however to suggest that Handel ever even tried to meet Bach, although it can be safely assumed that Handel was well aware of Bach’s capabilities, work, & respected reputation. Handel was described as being more of an extrovert, while Bach apparently was more of an introvert–& these predominant personal traits also translated into their respective bodies of music; the discerning ear will easily recognize those contrasting characteristics in their compositional styles.


How I recorded it:


Trust me, I know that my sound-recording here of this Adagio, or ‘Cantilena’ (which basically means ‘a smooth flowing melody’) is far from perfect. My tracks were not necessarily all done on the 1st take, however I did play each section (one right after the other) straight through in 1 take each & without any overdubs or punch in corrections. I did however insert a 2nd final note (on the tonic) as I ran out of breath on the original note! Forgive me.


There is only 1 major seam—it is obviously at the return to the main melody out of the bridge. I added that 1 measure ‘seam’ back to the melody; it not in the original Handel score & is more likely in the style of say Leopold Mozart (W.A.’s father). I also made an artistic decision (on purpose) to elongate my trills at the end of most of the phrase-sections. Thus, I also did not use a metronome as I wished to capture a more ‘human feel’—something that I feel is often lacking in much of today’s ‘music’. I again slightly panned (separated) the parts—so that the listener will be able to hear each part individually & yet still appreciate their relation as one complete single musical idea.  For best results, try using headphones.


The 2nd Trumpet Part (copyrighted, 2012 ©) was written mainly by Jules Sposato (my very 1st trumpet teacher!), with certain sub-parts being written by Peter J Blume. I then adapted the whole 2nd part to fit better sonically from theory to application, especially since I did not include the piano accompaniment part on this recording; the original music had been scored for 1 violin (transcribed for trumpet) & piano.


I dedicate my humble audio recording here (of this great Handel masterpiece) in memory of Master-Classical Trumpeter Maurice André, in appreciation for his life’s work & inspiration. Coincidentally, I had recorded the modest AUDIO portion of this video here on 2/24/12—the very day just before he died. For decades, he had been a huge influence to me, & to many other trumpet players & students around the globe.


(Please see my blog for more info on Mr. André at my website:


The AUDIO here is copyrighted by Peter J Blume, 2012 ©


Thanks for listening & hope you enjoy!—Peter J Blume, trumpeter (2012)


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