George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)

Episodes

EpisodeTitleFirst
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0120090413

Donald Macleod explores Handel's oratorios, focusing on his work in Rome as a young man.

Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno (excerpt from Part 1)

  • angel....barbara schlick (soprano)
  • bellezza....isabelle poulenard (soprano)
  • disinganno....nathalie stutzmann (alto)
  • erato 2292-45617-2, cd 1, trs 1-9

    acis and galatea (1718) - act 2, scs 1-3

  • erato ecd 75532, cd 1, tr 18

    three arias (il trionfo del tempo e del disinganno)

  • erato ecd 75532, cd 1, tr 6; cd 2, tr 16; cd 1, tr 10

    (oratorio per) la resurrezione di nostro signor gesu cristo (excerpt from part 1); scene 1

  • les musiciens du louvre
  • lucifer....klaus mertens (bass)
  • marc minkowski (conductor)
  • piacere....jennifer smith (soprano)
  • tempo....john elwes (tenor)
  • the amsterdam baroque orchestra
  • ton koopman (conductor)

  • 0120090413

    Donald Macleod explores Handel's oratorios, focusing on his work in Rome as a young man.

    Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno (excerpt from Part 1)

  • angel....barbara schlick (soprano)
  • bellezza....isabelle poulenard (soprano)
  • disinganno....nathalie stutzmann (alto)
  • erato 2292-45617-2, cd 1, trs 1-9

    acis and galatea (1718) - act 2, scs 1-3

  • erato ecd 75532, cd 1, tr 18

    three arias (il trionfo del tempo e del disinganno)

  • erato ecd 75532, cd 1, tr 6; cd 2, tr 16; cd 1, tr 10

    (oratorio per) la resurrezione di nostro signor gesu cristo (excerpt from part 1); scene 1

  • les musiciens du louvre
  • lucifer....klaus mertens (bass)
  • marc minkowski (conductor)
  • piacere....jennifer smith (soprano)
  • tempo....john elwes (tenor)
  • the amsterdam baroque orchestra
  • ton koopman (conductor)

  • 01*20090112

    Donald Macleod explores John Mainwaring's Memoirs of the Life of the Late George Frideric Handel, published in 1760.

    He discovers that Mainwaring's book is almost the only source for information about Handel's early life. His account is full of colourful incidents, many of which have since entered musical mythology, but Donald examines how how far we can trust Mainwairing's lively portrayal of the young composer.

    Part of Radio 3's Composers of the Year 2009 season.

    Sonata for two violins and strings, Op 5, No 4

  • archive 4596272, track 7-14
  • chaconne chan0620, tracks 1-5

    vedrai s'a tuo dispetto (almira)

  • choeur des musiciens du louvre
  • concentus musicus wien
  • emma kirkby (soprano)
  • hyperion, cda66860, track 2

    concerto grosso in f, op 6, no 2

  • les musiciens du louvre
  • marc minkowski (director)
  • nikolaus harnoncourt (director)
  • purcell quartet
  • roy goodman (director)
  • teldec 4509955002, cd2 tracks 6-9

    laudate pueri dominum

  • the brandenburg consort

  • 01A Confection Of Ideas20100809

    i) A Confection of Ideas - Handel and Borrowing

    Donald Macleod and Suzanne Aspden of Oxford University look at Handel's beginnings, his skillful ability to impress and control his employers, and his tendency to recycle existing music.

    If you are in search of a good role model, an example of a life well spent, well navigated, look to George Frideric Handel's seventy-four years.

    From day one this divinely musical and decisive Saxon instinctively knew where to take himself and who to please.

    Donald Macleod is joined by Suzanne Aspden, a Handel expert from Oxford University armed with the latest in Handel scholarship.

    Faced with hours of Handel's sublime music and the composer's eventful life story they've whisked up a focus on Handel the borrower of his own and others' music - with a look at Agrippina the opera that so impressed Venice, and an electric peformance of Dixit Dominus.

    They discuss Handel the politician, how the composer was adopted in England and found long-term favour with the new Hanoverian monarchy.

    Some of the most arresting moments from Handel's operas Radamisto, Admeto, Partenope, and Ariodante dominate the third programme, a look at Handel the resourceful 'Opera divo'.

    And with ravishing music from his oratorios Esther, Saul, Samson and Messiah, Handel as 'Man of God' is also exposed, revealing the composer's ability to twist a ban on staging Biblical texts to his advantage.

    Today the spirit of Handel lives on and in the final programme 'The Idea of Handel' Donald and Suzanne broadcast 'The Anthem for the Foundling Hospital', the Violin Sonata in D Op.1 and a saucy aria from Semele, as they exhibit how the reputation of this great composer has evolved over the centuries.

    Donald Macleod on Handel's ability to impress and control his employers.

    01A Confection Of Ideas20100809

    i) A Confection of Ideas - Handel and Borrowing

    Donald Macleod and Suzanne Aspden of Oxford University look at Handel's beginnings, his skillful ability to impress and control his employers, and his tendency to recycle existing music.

    If you are in search of a good role model, an example of a life well spent, well navigated, look to George Frideric Handel's seventy-four years.

    From day one this divinely musical and decisive Saxon instinctively knew where to take himself and who to please.

    Donald Macleod is joined by Suzanne Aspden, a Handel expert from Oxford University armed with the latest in Handel scholarship.

    Faced with hours of Handel's sublime music and the composer's eventful life story they've whisked up a focus on Handel the borrower of his own and others' music - with a look at Agrippina the opera that so impressed Venice, and an electric peformance of Dixit Dominus.

    They discuss Handel the politician, how the composer was adopted in England and found long-term favour with the new Hanoverian monarchy.

    Some of the most arresting moments from Handel's operas Radamisto, Admeto, Partenope, and Ariodante dominate the third programme, a look at Handel the resourceful 'Opera divo'.

    And with ravishing music from his oratorios Esther, Saul, Samson and Messiah, Handel as 'Man of God' is also exposed, revealing the composer's ability to twist a ban on staging Biblical texts to his advantage.

    Today the spirit of Handel lives on and in the final programme 'The Idea of Handel' Donald and Suzanne broadcast 'The Anthem for the Foundling Hospital', the Violin Sonata in D Op.1 and a saucy aria from Semele, as they exhibit how the reputation of this great composer has evolved over the centuries.

    Donald Macleod on Handel's ability to impress and control his employers.

    01Handel And His Italian Patrons20130304

    For Radio 3's Baroque Spring, Composer of the Week chooses four of the most well-loved Baroque composers - JS Bach, Vivaldi, Purcell and starting this week with Handel. Though Saxon by birth, Handel is often claimed by the English as one of their own. But during his early 20s, before England was even a glint in his eye, he spent a spell of three-and-a-half years, from summer 1706 to early 1710, travelling the patchwork of states we now know as Italy. He certainly chose an 'interesting' time to go; the War of the Spanish Succession was in full swing, and its reverberations were felt the length and breadth of the Italian peninsula. For most of the period he was based in Rome, but he also visited Florence, Naples and Venice, fulfilling major commissions in each city. All this week, Donald Macleod charts the composer's Italian progress, with the help of novelist, biographer and avid Handelian, Jonathan Keates.

    Handel's networking skills were almost on a level with his compositional prowess, and wherever he went, he seemed effortlessly to ally himself with the most powerful and influential cultural gatekeepers of the day. So today's programme focuses on Handel's Italian patrons - princes, marquises, cardinals, duchesses - all dazzled by the brilliance of the man they knew as Il caro Sassone - the dear Saxon.

    Donald Macleod on Handel's Italian patrons - princes, marquises, cardinals, duchesses.

    Donald Macleod on Handel's Italian patrons - princes, marquises, cardinals, duchesses.

    For Radio 3's Baroque Spring, Composer of the Week chooses four of the most well-loved Baroque composers - JS Bach, Vivaldi, Purcell and starting this week with Handel. Though Saxon by birth, Handel is often claimed by the English as one of their own. But during his early 20s, before England was even a glint in his eye, he spent a spell of three-and-a-half years, from summer 1706 to early 1710, travelling the patchwork of states we now know as Italy. He certainly chose an 'interesting' time to go; the War of the Spanish Succession was in full swing, and its reverberations were felt the length and breadth of the Italian peninsula. For most of the period he was based in Rome, but he also visited Florence, Naples and Venice, fulfilling major commissions in each city. All this week, Donald Macleod charts the composer's Italian progress, with the help of novelist, biographer and avid Handelian, Jonathan Keates.

    Handel's networking skills were almost on a level with his compositional prowess, and wherever he went, he seemed effortlessly to ally himself with the most powerful and influential cultural gatekeepers of the day. So today's programme focuses on Handel's Italian patrons - princes, marquises, cardinals, duchesses - all dazzled by the brilliance of the man they knew as Il caro Sassone - the dear Saxon.

    Donald Macleod on Handel's Italian patrons - princes, marquises, cardinals, duchesses.

    For Radio 3's Baroque Spring, Composer of the Week chooses four of the most well-loved Baroque composers - JS Bach, Vivaldi, Purcell and starting this week with Handel. Though Saxon by birth, Handel is often claimed by the English as one of their own. But during his early 20s, before England was even a glint in his eye, he spent a spell of three-and-a-half years, from summer 1706 to early 1710, travelling the patchwork of states we now know as Italy. He certainly chose an 'interesting' time to go; the War of the Spanish Succession was in full swing, and its reverberations were felt the length and breadth of the Italian peninsula. For most of the period he was based in Rome, but he also visited Florence, Naples and Venice, fulfilling major commissions in each city. All this week, Donald Macleod charts the composer's Italian progress, with the help of novelist, biographer and avid Handelian, Jonathan Keates.

    Handel's networking skills were almost on a level with his compositional prowess, and wherever he went, he seemed effortlessly to ally himself with the most powerful and influential cultural gatekeepers of the day. So today's programme focuses on Handel's Italian patrons - princes, marquises, cardinals, duchesses - all dazzled by the brilliance of the man they knew as Il caro Sassone - the dear Saxon.

    01Handel makes his mark in London20180129

    Donald Macleod introduces music from Handel's early years in the English capital.

    By the time Handel arrived in London in 1710 he was an established composer with five Italian operas under his belt. He took the capital by storm with his first offering for the London stage a year later and over the next three decades Handel composed over 50 operas, all produced in London and starring some of the greatest singers of the Baroque era.
    In 1719 the Royal Academy of Music was formed in order to create a more secure footing for the production of Italian opera, which was just the platform Handel needed. Donald Macleod introduces music from the first opera he wrote for the Academy - complete with family feuds, illicit passions and royal tyrants - the second suite created from the music which famously accompanied King George I's progress along the River Thames in 1717 and one of the eleven anthems Handel composed in honour of his patron the first Duke of Chandos.

    Aria: Venti turbini (Rinaldo)
    David Daniels, countertenor (Rinaldo)
    Academy of Ancient Music
    Director Christopher Hogwood

    Water Music Suite No 2
    Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin
    Conductor George Kallweit

    O Sing unto the Lord
    The Sixteen Choir and Orchestra
    Conductor Harry Christophers

    Radamisto (excerpt)
    Maite Beaumont, mezzo-soprano (Zenobia)
    Joyce DiDonato, mezzo-soprano (Radamisto)
    Laura Cherici, soprano (Tigrane)
    Dominique Labelle, soprano (Fraarte)
    Il Complesso Barocco
    Director Alan Curtis.

    01Messing About on the River20140421

    01Messing About On The River20140421

    Donald Macleod explores Handel's early years in London.

    This week, as part of the BBC's Eighteenth Century season, Donald Macleod explores the music Handel composed for the Georges, I and II, and to commemorate major events in their reigns.

    Today, Handel is dismissed from his post as Kapellmeister to Georg Ludwig, Elector of Hanover, but restored to favour when Georg - now George - accedes to the British throne. George is a keen opera-goer so Handel, eager to please, throws himself with gusto into London's nascent operatic scene. Things come temporarily unstuck when the opera company runs into financial trouble and disbands, but this doesn't distract Handel from coming up with the perfect soundtrack for some right royal messing about on the river: his Water Music.

    01Messing About on the River20140421

    Donald Macleod explores Handel's early years in London.

    01Messing About on the River20140421

    This week, as part of the BBC's Eighteenth Century season, Donald Macleod explores the music Handel composed for the Georges, I and II, and to commemorate major events in their reigns.

    Today, Handel is dismissed from his post as Kapellmeister to Georg Ludwig, Elector of Hanover, but restored to favour when Georg - now George - accedes to the British throne. George is a keen opera-goer so Handel, eager to please, throws himself with gusto into London's nascent operatic scene. Things come temporarily unstuck when the opera company runs into financial trouble and disbands, but this doesn't distract Handel from coming up with the perfect soundtrack for some right royal messing about on the river: his Water Music.

    01Messing About On The River20140421

    This week, as part of the BBC's Eighteenth Century season, Donald Macleod explores the music Handel composed for the Georges, I and II, and to commemorate major events in their reigns.

    Today, Handel is dismissed from his post as Kapellmeister to Georg Ludwig, Elector of Hanover, but restored to favour when Georg - now George - accedes to the British throne. George is a keen opera-goer so Handel, eager to please, throws himself with gusto into London's nascent operatic scene. Things come temporarily unstuck when the opera company runs into financial trouble and disbands, but this doesn't distract Handel from coming up with the perfect soundtrack for some right royal messing about on the river: his Water Music.

    Donald Macleod explores Handel's early years in London.

    01Orpheus Of Our Time20151123

    Donald Macleod recounts how the young Handel defied his father to pursue a career in music

    Donald Macleod explores Handel's early years, and recounts how the young composer defied his father to pursue a career in music. After studying alongside Telemann at the University of Halle, Handel travelled to Italy where he was sought out as one of the most outstanding new composers on the peninsula, a reputation that augured well for his subsequent arrival in London.

    Messiah: Excerpt from Part II

    The Sixteen

    Harry Christophers, Conductor

    Almira, Dance Suite

    The Parley of Instruments

    Peter Holman, conductor

    Dixit Dominus (Excerpt)

    The Sixteen Choir and Orchestra

    Rinaldo Act II Sc 4: Lascia ch'io pianga

    Cecilia Bartoli, soprano (Almirena)

    The Academy of Ancient Music

    Christopher Hogwood, conductor.

    01Orpheus Of Our Time20151123

    Donald Macleod recounts how the young Handel defied his father to pursue a career in music

    Donald Macleod explores Handel's early years, and recounts how the young composer defied his father to pursue a career in music. After studying alongside Telemann at the University of Halle, Handel travelled to Italy where he was sought out as one of the most outstanding new composers on the peninsula, a reputation that augured well for his subsequent arrival in London.

    Messiah: Excerpt from Part II

    The Sixteen

    Harry Christophers, Conductor

    Almira, Dance Suite

    The Parley of Instruments

    Peter Holman, conductor

    Dixit Dominus (Excerpt)

    The Sixteen Choir and Orchestra

    Rinaldo Act II Sc 4: Lascia ch'io pianga

    Cecilia Bartoli, soprano (Almirena)

    The Academy of Ancient Music

    Christopher Hogwood, conductor.

    01Volant Fingers20161205

    01Volant Fingers20161205

    How Handel impressed a duke, dazzled in Rome and invented the organ concerto.

    01Volant Fingers20161205

    This week Donald Macleod focuses on Handel the organist. Today, Handel impresses the Duke of Saxe-Weissenfels, dazzles his Roman audiences and invents the organ concerto.

    "A fine and delicate touch, a Volant finger and a ready delivery of passages the most difficult, are the praise of inferior artists. They were not noticed in Handel, whose excellencies were of a far superior kind, and his amazing command of the instrument, the fullness of his harmony, the grandeur and dignity of his style, the copiousness of his imagination, and the fertility of his invention were qualities that absorbed every inferior attainment." So wrote Handel's biographer John Hawkins, attempting to capture in words the effect made on him by the almost ineffably brilliant organ-playing of his subject. Things could have turned out very differently. Handel's father, court surgeon to Johann Adolf I, Duke of Saxe-Weissenfels, had wanted his son to pursue a career in the law, but fate intervened when the Duke overheard young Georg Frideric playing the organ after service one Sunday and strongly encouraged Georg senior to allow his son to have a musical training. Within a few years, Handel left to seek his fortune in Italy, where a contemporary account has a snapshot of him playing the organ in Rome, "to the astonishment of everyone". At this point in his life, the organ was an instrument Handel improvised on rather than - with a handful of exceptions - composed for, and it's not until the mid 1730s that he produced the first of his organ concertos, for performance between the acts of a revival of his oratorio Esther.

    Handel: Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno, HWV 46a; (Sonata - 'Taci, qual suono ascolto')

    Le Concert d'Astrée

    Emmanuelle Haïm, organ and direction

    Fugue in G, HWV 606

    Ton Koopman, organ of St James', Great Packington

    Concerto Grosso in D, Op 3 No 6 (HWV 317)

    Les Musiciens du Louvre

    Marc Minkowski, conductor

    Deborah, HWV 51 (Act 2, 'In the battle, fame pursuing')

    James Bowman, countertenor (Barak)

    Paul Nicholson, chamber organ

    The King's Consort

    Robert King, conductor

    Esther, HWV 50b (Act 1 scene 1, extract)

    Rebecca Outram, soprano (Israelite woman)

    Rosemary Joshua, soprano (Esther)

    Handel Orchestra and Chorus

    Laurence Cummings, conductor

    Organ Concerto in B flat, Op 4 No 2 (HWV 290)

    Ottavio Dantone, organ and direction

    Accademia Bizantina

    Esther, HWV 50b (Act 2 scene 4, extract)

    Handel Orchestra and Chorus

    Laurence Cummings, conductor

    Producer: Chris Barstow.

    01Volant Fingers20161205

    This week Donald Macleod focuses on Handel the organist. Today, Handel impresses the Duke of Saxe-Weissenfels, dazzles his Roman audiences and invents the organ concerto.

    "A fine and delicate touch, a Volant finger and a ready delivery of passages the most difficult, are the praise of inferior artists. They were not noticed in Handel, whose excellencies were of a far superior kind, and his amazing command of the instrument, the fullness of his harmony, the grandeur and dignity of his style, the copiousness of his imagination, and the fertility of his invention were qualities that absorbed every inferior attainment." So wrote Handel's biographer John Hawkins, attempting to capture in words the effect made on him by the almost ineffably brilliant organ-playing of his subject. Things could have turned out very differently. Handel's father, court surgeon to Johann Adolf I, Duke of Saxe-Weissenfels, had wanted his son to pursue a career in the law, but fate intervened when the Duke overheard young Georg Frideric playing the organ after service one Sunday and strongly encouraged Georg senior to allow his son to have a musical training. Within a few years, Handel left to seek his fortune in Italy, where a contemporary account has a snapshot of him playing the organ in Rome, "to the astonishment of everyone". At this point in his life, the organ was an instrument Handel improvised on rather than - with a handful of exceptions - composed for, and it's not until the mid 1730s that he produced the first of his organ concertos, for performance between the acts of a revival of his oratorio Esther.

    Handel: Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno, HWV 46a; (Sonata - 'Taci, qual suono ascolto')

    Le Concert d'Astrée

    Emmanuelle Haïm, organ and direction

    Fugue in G, HWV 606

    Ton Koopman, organ of St James', Great Packington

    Concerto Grosso in D, Op 3 No 6 (HWV 317)

    Les Musiciens du Louvre

    Marc Minkowski, conductor

    Deborah, HWV 51 (Act 2, 'In the battle, fame pursuing')

    James Bowman, countertenor (Barak)

    Paul Nicholson, chamber organ

    The King's Consort

    Robert King, conductor

    Esther, HWV 50b (Act 1 scene 1, extract)

    Rebecca Outram, soprano (Israelite woman)

    Rosemary Joshua, soprano (Esther)

    Handel Orchestra and Chorus

    Laurence Cummings, conductor

    Organ Concerto in B flat, Op 4 No 2 (HWV 290)

    Ottavio Dantone, organ and direction

    Accademia Bizantina

    Esther, HWV 50b (Act 2 scene 4, extract)

    Producer: Chris Barstow.

    How Handel impressed a duke, dazzled in Rome and invented the organ concerto.

    0220090414

    Donald Macleod explores Handel's oratorios, focusing on the accidental conception of the English oratorio.

    Esther (excerpt from Sc 2)

  • Edward Higginbottom (chorus master)
  • Edward Higginbottom (director)
  • abinoam....michael george (bass)
  • abner....david thomas (bass)
  • ahasuerus....tom randle (tenor)
  • athalia....joan sutherland (soprano)
  • barak....James Bowman (coutertenor)
  • choir of new college, oxford
  • christopher hogwood (conductor)
  • coro cor16019, cd 1, tr 12

    esther (excerpts from sc 2)

  • deborah....yvonne kenny (soprano)
  • decca 475 207-2, cd 1, trs 7-12.

    Donald Macleod explores the accidental conception of the english oratorio

  • esther....lynda russell (soprano)
  • haman....michael george (bass)
  • harry christophers (conductor)
  • harry christophers (conductor) coro cor16019 cd 2, trs 15-19

    deborah (1733) - excerpt from act 3, sc 2

  • hyperion cda66841/2, cd 2, trs 21-29

    athalia (act 1, sc 3)

  • jael and an israelite woman....susan gritton (mezzo-soprano)
  • mathan....anthony rolfe johnson (tenor)
  • robert king (conductor)
  • the academy of ancient music
  • the king's consort
  • the sixteen
  • the symphony of harmony and invention

  • 0220090414

    Donald Macleod explores Handel's oratorios, focusing on the accidental conception of the English oratorio.

    Esther (excerpt from Sc 2)

  • Edward Higginbottom (chorus master)
  • Edward Higginbottom (director)
  • abinoam....michael george (bass)
  • abner....david thomas (bass)
  • ahasuerus....tom randle (tenor)
  • athalia....joan sutherland (soprano)
  • barak....James Bowman (coutertenor)
  • choir of new college, oxford
  • christopher hogwood (conductor)
  • coro cor16019, cd 1, tr 12

    esther (excerpts from sc 2)

  • deborah....yvonne kenny (soprano)
  • decca 475 207-2, cd 1, trs 7-12.

    Donald Macleod explores the accidental conception of the english oratorio

  • esther....lynda russell (soprano)
  • haman....michael george (bass)
  • harry christophers (conductor)
  • harry christophers (conductor) coro cor16019 cd 2, trs 15-19

    deborah (1733) - excerpt from act 3, sc 2

  • hyperion cda66841/2, cd 2, trs 21-29

    athalia (act 1, sc 3)

  • jael and an israelite woman....susan gritton (mezzo-soprano)
  • mathan....anthony rolfe johnson (tenor)
  • robert king (conductor)
  • the academy of ancient music
  • the king's consort
  • the sixteen
  • the symphony of harmony and invention

  • 02*20090113

    Donald Macleod follows Handel concluding his 'grand tour' of Italy and starting a new post

    Guided by John Mainwaring's 1760 biography Memoirs of the Life of the Late George Frederic Handel, Donald Macleod follows the young composer as he completes his 'grand tour' of Italy and takes up a new post.

    Part of Radio 3's Composers of the Year 2009 season.

    Overture (Rodrigo)

  • Simon Preston (director)
  • academia montis regalis
  • alessandro de marchi (director)
  • anna fontana (organ)
  • charles brett (countertenor)
  • david thomas (bass)
  • decca 4580722, t15 - 22
  • emma kirkby, judith nelson (soprano)
  • hyperion cda67503, trs 29, 30, 32, 33 and 37

    un leggiadro giovinetto (il trionfo del tempo e del disinganno)

  • hyperion cda676812, cd1, trs 19, 20

    tacete, ohime, tacete

  • jane fenton (cello)
  • john shirley-quirke (bass-baritone)
  • kate aldrich (mezzo-soprano)
  • martin isepp (harpsichord)
  • meridian cde84157, track 18

    utrecht te deum

  • paul elliott (tenor)
  • peter holman (director)
  • rogers covey-crump (tenor)
  • the academy of ancient music
  • the choir of christ church cathedral, oxford
  • the parley of instruments
  • yvonne kenny (soprano)

  • 02Alexander's Feast20161206

    02Alexander's Feast20161206

    How, as London audiences lost interest in Italian opera, the oratorio gained in popularity

    02Alexander's Feast20161206

    This week Donald Macleod focuses on Handel the organist. Today, as London audiences lose interest in Italian opera, oratorio - with tailor-made organ concerti - is where it's at.

    Handel - not just a great composer but an astute businessman too - got into oratorio at precisely the right time. Since the late 1720s, the London public's appetite for opera in Italian had been on a downward trajectory. Then in 1733, a rival company - the Opera of the Nobility - set itself up in direct competition to Handel, making the Italian-opera pound even harder to earn. Handel's return to oratorio began with what might have been a one-off revival of a fifteen-year-old work, Esther, to mark his 47th birthday. But when, a couple of months later, a 'pirate' performance of the same piece was put on without his permission, Handel recaptured the initiative by quickly mounting a new, substantially revised version. It was a great success, which he followed up first with Acis and Galatea - an English revision of his Italian oratorio Aci, Galatea e Polifemo - and then with a new oratorio, Deborah. From this accidental sequence of events, the English oratorio tradition was born - along with the organ concerto, which Handel introduced to beef up the evening's entertainment to match the experience of an evening at the opera. In Alexander's Feast, or The Power of Musick, the concerti - for organ and harp - are actually integrated into the narrative.

    Cecilia, volgi un sguardo, HWV 89 (No 8, 'Tra amplessi innocenti', extract)

    Jennifer Smith, soprano

    John Elwes, tenor

    The English Concert

    Trevor Pinnock, conductor

    Concerto Grosso in C, HWV 318 (Alexander's Feast)

    Collegium Musicum 90

    Simon Standage, conductor

    Harp Concerto in B flat, Op 4 No 6 (HWV 294)

    Frances Kelly, harp

    Brandenburg Consort

    Roy Goodman, conductor

    Alexander's Feast; or, The Power of Musick, HWV 75 (Pt 2, No 25: 'Thus, long ago, 'ere heaving Bellows learned to blow')

    Anthony Rolfe Johnson, tenor

    Stockholm Bach Choir

    Concentus Musicus Wien

    Nikolaus Harnoncourt, conductor

    Organ Concerto in G minor, Op 4 No 1 (HWV 289)

    Ton Koopman, organ and direction

    Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra

    Producer: Chris Barstow.

    02Alexander's Feast20161206

    This week Donald Macleod focuses on Handel the organist. Today, as London audiences lose interest in Italian opera, oratorio - with tailor-made organ concerti - is where it's at.

    Handel - not just a great composer but an astute businessman too - got into oratorio at precisely the right time. Since the late 1720s, the London public's appetite for opera in Italian had been on a downward trajectory. Then in 1733, a rival company - the Opera of the Nobility - set itself up in direct competition to Handel, making the Italian-opera pound even harder to earn. Handel's return to oratorio began with what might have been a one-off revival of a fifteen-year-old work, Esther, to mark his 47th birthday. But when, a couple of months later, a 'pirate' performance of the same piece was put on without his permission, Handel recaptured the initiative by quickly mounting a new, substantially revised version. It was a great success, which he followed up first with Acis and Galatea - an English revision of his Italian oratorio Aci, Galatea e Polifemo - and then with a new oratorio, Deborah. From this accidental sequence of events, the English oratorio tradition was born - along with the organ concerto, which Handel introduced to beef up the evening's entertainment to match the experience of an evening at the opera. In Alexander's Feast, or The Power of Musick, the concerti - for organ and harp - are actually integrated into the narrative.

    Cecilia, volgi un sguardo, HWV 89 (No 8, 'Tra amplessi innocenti', extract)

    Jennifer Smith, soprano

    John Elwes, tenor

    The English Concert

    Trevor Pinnock, conductor

    Concerto Grosso in C, HWV 318 (Alexander's Feast)

    Collegium Musicum 90

    Simon Standage, conductor

    Harp Concerto in B flat, Op 4 No 6 (HWV 294)

    Frances Kelly, harp

    Brandenburg Consort

    Roy Goodman, conductor

    Alexander's Feast; or, The Power of Musick, HWV 75 (Pt 2, No 25: 'Thus, long ago, 'ere heaving Bellows learned to blow')

    Anthony Rolfe Johnson, tenor

    Stockholm Bach Choir

    Concentus Musicus Wien

    Nikolaus Harnoncourt, conductor

    Organ Concerto in G minor, Op 4 No 1 (HWV 289)

    Ton Koopman, organ and direction

    Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra

    Producer: Chris Barstow.

    How, as London audiences lost interest in Italian opera, the oratorio gained in popularity

    02Handel In The Ascendant20140422

    Donald Macleod on what happened after Handel took the helm of the Royal Academy of Music.

    This week, as part of the BBC's Eighteenth Century season, Donald Macleod explores the music Handel composed for the Georges, I and II, and to commemorate major events in their reigns.

    Today, Handel takes the helm of the newly founded Royal Academy of Music; is appointed Composer for his Majesty's Chapel Royal and Music Master to the royal princesses; creates a string of highly-regarded operatic masterpieces; and makes a seriously upmarket house-move ? right next door to Jimi Hendrix.

    02Handel In The Ascendant20140422

    This week, as part of the BBC's Eighteenth Century season, Donald Macleod explores the music Handel composed for the Georges, I and II, and to commemorate major events in their reigns.

    Today, Handel takes the helm of the newly founded Royal Academy of Music; is appointed Composer for his Majesty's Chapel Royal and Music Master to the royal princesses; creates a string of highly-regarded operatic masterpieces; and makes a seriously upmarket house-move ? right next door to Jimi Hendrix.

    Donald Macleod on what happened after Handel took the helm of the Royal Academy of Music.

    02Handel's Italian Cantatas20130305

    Though Saxon by birth, Handel is often claimed by the English as one of their own. But during his early 20s, before England was even a glint in his eye, he spent a spell of three-and-a-half years, from summer 1706 to early 1710, travelling the patchwork of states we now know as Italy. He certainly chose an 'interesting' time to go; the War of the Spanish Succession was in full swing, and its reverberations were felt the length and breadth of the Italian peninsula. For most of the period he was based in Rome, but he also visited Florence, Naples and Venice, fulfilling major commissions in each city. All this week, Donald Macleod charts the composer's Italian progress, with the help of novelist, biographer and avid Handelian, Jonathan Keates.

    The closest thing Handel had to a day job at this point in his life was the production of secular cantatas for his chief Italian benefactor, the Marchese Francesco Maria Ruspoli. Handel wrote dozens of these mini operatic scenas, yet they are among the least known of his works. Today's programme focuses on some of the gems of this rich and varied repertory.

    Donald Macleod focuses on the repertoire of cantatas for Handel's chief Italian benefactor

    Donald Macleod focuses on the repertoire of cantatas for Handel's chief Italian benefactor

    Though Saxon by birth, Handel is often claimed by the English as one of their own. But during his early 20s, before England was even a glint in his eye, he spent a spell of three-and-a-half years, from summer 1706 to early 1710, travelling the patchwork of states we now know as Italy. He certainly chose an 'interesting' time to go; the War of the Spanish Succession was in full swing, and its reverberations were felt the length and breadth of the Italian peninsula. For most of the period he was based in Rome, but he also visited Florence, Naples and Venice, fulfilling major commissions in each city. All this week, Donald Macleod charts the composer's Italian progress, with the help of novelist, biographer and avid Handelian, Jonathan Keates.

    The closest thing Handel had to a day job at this point in his life was the production of secular cantatas for his chief Italian benefactor, the Marchese Francesco Maria Ruspoli. Handel wrote dozens of these mini operatic scenas, yet they are among the least known of his works. Today's programme focuses on some of the gems of this rich and varied repertory.

    02London20151124

    Donald Macleod focuses on the period when Handel made London his permanent home.

    Handel becomes composer in residence at Cannons and makes London his permanent home.

    Handel quickly found his feet in London. He was introduced at court and Queen Anne moved to grant him a regular pension. He found himself with a a steady stream of lucrative commissions and began to develop a brand new vocal genre that would soon take his adopted nation by storm. Esther becomes the first English Oratorio. Presented by Donald Macleod.

    Eternal Source of Light Divine (Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne)

    Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford

    Academy of Ancient Music

    Simon Preston, conductor

    My Song Shall Be Alway (Chandos Anthem No 7)

    The Sixteen Choir and Orchestra

    Harry Christophers, conductor

    Keyboard Suite No 2 in F major, HWV 427

    Ottavio Dantone, harpsichord

    Acis and Galatea (excerpt)

    Kym Amps, soprano (Galatea)

    The Scholars Baroque Ensemble

    David van Asch, conductor

    Overture: Esther

    Dunedin Concert

    John Butt, conductor.

    02London20151124

    Handel becomes composer in residence at Cannons and makes London his permanent home.

    Handel quickly found his feet in London. He was introduced at court and Queen Anne moved to grant him a regular pension. He found himself with a a steady stream of lucrative commissions and began to develop a brand new vocal genre that would soon take his adopted nation by storm. Esther becomes the first English Oratorio. Presented by Donald Macleod.

    Eternal Source of Light Divine (Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne)

    Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford

    Academy of Ancient Music

    Simon Preston, conductor

    My Song Shall Be Alway (Chandos Anthem No 7)

    The Sixteen Choir and Orchestra

    Harry Christophers, conductor

    Keyboard Suite No 2 in F major, HWV 427

    Ottavio Dantone, harpsichord

    Acis and Galatea (excerpt)

    Kym Amps, soprano (Galatea)

    The Scholars Baroque Ensemble

    David van Asch, conductor

    Overture: Esther

    Dunedin Concert

    John Butt, conductor.

    Donald Macleod focuses on the period when Handel made London his permanent home.

    02The age of the celebrity singer20180130

    Donald Macleod introduces operas Handel wrote for some of the best singers of his time.

    Handel was in demand as an operatic composer and he was keen to outdo his fellow composers in order to maintain his position. He was aided in his task by the finest performers money could buy, including the castrato known as Senesino and sopranos Faustina Bordoni and Francesca Cuzzoni, though their presence would prove both a blessing and a curse. Donald Macleod introduces three operas from this challenging but intensely productive time - the first featuring Cuzzoni in her London debut, the second in which she played Cleopatra to Senesino's Julius Caesar and finally, in an excerpt from the hectic operatic account of the life of Alexander the Great, the two divas star as rivals in love.

    Ottone: 'Falsa immagine'
    Lisa Saffer, soprano (Teofane)
    Freiburg Baroque Orchestra
    Conductor Nicholas McGegan

    Giulio Cesare (excerpt)
    Karina Gauvin, soprano (Cleopatra)
    Marie-Nicole Lemieux, alto (Cesare)
    Gianluca Buratto, bass (Curio)
    Il Complesso Barocco
    Conductor Alan Curtis

    Alessandro (excerpts)
    Max Emanuel Cencic, countertenor (Alessandro)
    Juan Sancho, tenor (Leonato)
    Julia Lezhneva, soprano (Rossane)
    Karina Gauvin, soprano (Lisaura)
    Armonia Atenea
    Conductor George Petrou.

    02The Political Mr Handel20100810

    i) The Political Mr Handel

    Donald Macleod and Suzanne Aspden of Oxford University reveal how Handel thrived in Britain thanks to his political acumen and his well-received music.

    Today's programme includes the Water Music and the kaleidoscopic sounds of the Keyboard Suite No.7 in G Minor.

    If you are in search of a good role model, an example of a life well spent, well navigated, look to George Frideric Handel's seventy-four years.

    From day one this divinely musical and decisive Saxon instinctively knew where to take himself and who to please.

    Donald Macleod is joined by Suzanne Aspden, a Handel expert from Oxford University armed with the latest in Handel scholarship.

    Faced with hours of Handel's sublime music and the composer's eventful life story they've whisked up a focus on Handel the borrower of his own and others' music - with a look at Agrippina the opera that so impressed Venice, and an electric peformance of Dixit Dominus.

    They discuss Handel the politician, how the composer was adopted in England and found long-term favour with the new Hanoverian monarchy.

    Some of the most arresting moments from Handel's operas Radamisto, Admeto, Partenope, and Ariodante dominate the third programme, a look at Handel the resourceful 'Opera divo'.

    And with ravishing music from his oratorios Esther, Saul, Samson and Messiah, Handel as 'Man of God' is also exposed, revealing the composer's ability to twist a ban on staging Biblical texts to his advantage.

    Today the spirit of Handel lives on and in the final programme 'The Idea of Handel' Donald and Suzanne broadcast 'The Anthem for the Foundling Hospital', the Violin Sonata in D Op.1 and a saucy aria from Semele, as they exhibit how the reputation of this great composer has evolved over the centuries.

    Donald Macleod and Suzanne Aspden discuss how Handel thrived in Britain.

    02The Political Mr Handel20100810

    i) The Political Mr Handel

    Donald Macleod and Suzanne Aspden of Oxford University reveal how Handel thrived in Britain thanks to his political acumen and his well-received music.

    Today's programme includes the Water Music and the kaleidoscopic sounds of the Keyboard Suite No.7 in G Minor.

    If you are in search of a good role model, an example of a life well spent, well navigated, look to George Frideric Handel's seventy-four years.

    From day one this divinely musical and decisive Saxon instinctively knew where to take himself and who to please.

    Donald Macleod is joined by Suzanne Aspden, a Handel expert from Oxford University armed with the latest in Handel scholarship.

    Faced with hours of Handel's sublime music and the composer's eventful life story they've whisked up a focus on Handel the borrower of his own and others' music - with a look at Agrippina the opera that so impressed Venice, and an electric peformance of Dixit Dominus.

    They discuss Handel the politician, how the composer was adopted in England and found long-term favour with the new Hanoverian monarchy.

    Some of the most arresting moments from Handel's operas Radamisto, Admeto, Partenope, and Ariodante dominate the third programme, a look at Handel the resourceful 'Opera divo'.

    And with ravishing music from his oratorios Esther, Saul, Samson and Messiah, Handel as 'Man of God' is also exposed, revealing the composer's ability to twist a ban on staging Biblical texts to his advantage.

    Today the spirit of Handel lives on and in the final programme 'The Idea of Handel' Donald and Suzanne broadcast 'The Anthem for the Foundling Hospital', the Violin Sonata in D Op.1 and a saucy aria from Semele, as they exhibit how the reputation of this great composer has evolved over the centuries.

    Donald Macleod and Suzanne Aspden discuss how Handel thrived in Britain.

    0320090415

    Donald Macleod explores Handel's oratorios, focusing on Saul, Belshazzar and Messiah, written after a five-year break from composition.

    Alexander's Feast (excerpt from Part 2)

  • abner....finnur bjarnason (tenor)
  • anthony rolfe johnson (tenor)
  • concentus musicus wien
  • concerto koln
  • david....lawrence zazzo (countertenor)
  • harmonia mundi hmc 901877.78, cd 2, trs 18-23

    messiah (1741) - excerpt from part 2

  • high priest....michael slattery (tenor)
  • merab....emma bell (soprano)
  • michal....rosemary joshua (soprano)
  • nikolaus harnoncourt (conductor)
  • rene jacobs (conductor)
  • rias-kammerchor
  • teldec 8.35671, cd 2, tr 4

    saul (act 3, sc 5)

  • the princes applaud (accompagnato - tenor)

  • 0320090415

    Donald Macleod explores Handel's oratorios, focusing on Saul, Belshazzar and Messiah, written after a five-year break from composition.

    Alexander's Feast (excerpt from Part 2)

  • abner....finnur bjarnason (tenor)
  • anthony rolfe johnson (tenor)
  • concentus musicus wien
  • concerto koln
  • david....lawrence zazzo (countertenor)
  • harmonia mundi hmc 901877.78, cd 2, trs 18-23

    messiah (1741) - excerpt from part 2

  • high priest....michael slattery (tenor)
  • merab....emma bell (soprano)
  • michal....rosemary joshua (soprano)
  • nikolaus harnoncourt (conductor)
  • rene jacobs (conductor)
  • rias-kammerchor
  • teldec 8.35671, cd 2, tr 4

    saul (act 3, sc 5)

  • the princes applaud (accompagnato - tenor)

  • 03*20090114

    Donald Macleod explores Handel's move to England.

    Donald Macleod explores John Mainwaring's 1760 biography of Handel, and finds the composer deciding to settle in England and then plunged into the very centre of the London music scene.

    Part of Radio 3's Composers of the Year 2009 season.

    Suite II, Prelude (Water Music)

  • Catherine Bott (soprano)
  • aradia ensemble
  • dunedin consort and players
  • emma kirkby (soprano)
  • freiburger barockorchester
  • glossa gcd921606, track 10

    water music suite iii

  • harmonia mundi hmu90711113, cd 2, tracks 5 and 6

    alessandro (excerpts)

  • herve niquet (conductor)
  • hyperion cda66950, trs 2, 3, 4, 5, 10 and 11
  • john butt (director)
  • kevin mallon (director)
  • le concert spirituel
  • linn ckd319, tracks 1 and 2

    ombra cara (radamisto)

  • naxos 8557764 t.18-22

    overture and chorus (acis and galatea)

  • nicholas mcgegan (director)
  • ralf popken (countertenor)
  • roy goodman (director)
  • the brandenburg consort

  • 03A Head Full of Maggots20161207

    03A Head Full of Maggots20161207

    Donald Macleod explains how Handel enriched the orchestration of his oratorio Saul.

    03A Head Full of Maggots20161207

    This week Donald Macleod looks at Handel the organist. Today, Handel enriches the orchestration of his oratorio Saul with a carillon, three trombones and a brand new organ.

    When Handel's librettist Charles Jennens paid a visit to the composer while he was at work on his oratorio Saul, he found his head to be "more full of Maggots than ever" - maggots being not the larvae of flies, but an archaic term for 'bizarre ideas'. The first thing to disconcert Jennens was "a very queer Instrument which He calls Carillon. 'Tis play'd upon with Keys like a Harpsichord, & with this Cyclopean Instrument he designs to make poor Saul ... stark mad." Then there was the trio of sackbuts (trombones) Handel was planning to use - creatures about as rare in 18th-century London as Muscovy ducks. And to cap it all, there was to be a specially commissioned contraption - "an organ of £500 price, which, because he is overstock'd with Money, he has bespoke of one Moss of Barnet." The carillon, the sackbuts and the bespoke organ - which features in a number of florid concerto-like movements - all contributed to an orchestral texture that prompted Handel scholar Winton Dean to suggest that "in its richness and grandeur of orchestration, Saul has scarcely a rival in 18th-century music." Handel kept the trombones for Israel in Egypt, but its predominantly choral sound seems to have had a relatively lukewarm reception from audiences that had previously appreciated his operas.

    Saul (Act 1 scene 2, Symphony)

    The Sixteen

    Harry Christophers, conductor

    Saul (Act 1, Symphony)

    The Sixteen

    Harry Christophers, conductor

    Saul (Act 2 scene 1, 'Envy, eldest born of Hell')

    The Sixteen

    Harry Christophers, conductor

    Saul (Act 2 scene 5, Symphony)

    The Sixteen

    Harry Christophers, conductor

    Saul (Act 3 scene 5, Elegy on the Death of Saul and Jonathan)

    The Sixteen

    Harry Christophers, conductor

    Israel in Egypt, HWV 54 (Pt 2, 'The people shall hear and be afraid')

    The Monteverdi Choir

    The English Baroque Soloists

    John Eliot Gardiner, conductor

    Organ Concerto in F, HWV 295 (The Cuckoo and the Nightingale)

    Bob van Asperen, organ and direction

    Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

    Producer: Chris Barstow.

    03A Head Full Of Maggots20161207

    This week Donald Macleod looks at Handel the organist. Today, Handel enriches the orchestration of his oratorio Saul with a carillon, three trombones and a brand new organ.

    When Handel's librettist Charles Jennens paid a visit to the composer while he was at work on his oratorio Saul, he found his head to be "more full of Maggots than ever" - maggots being not the larvae of flies, but an archaic term for 'bizarre ideas'. The first thing to disconcert Jennens was "a very queer Instrument which He calls Carillon. 'Tis play'd upon with Keys like a Harpsichord, and with this Cyclopean Instrument he designs to make poor Saul... stark mad." Then there was the trio of sackbuts (trombones) Handel was planning to use - creatures about as rare in 18th-century London as Muscovy ducks. And to cap it all, there was to be a specially commissioned contraption - "an organ of £500 price, which, because he is overstock'd with Money, he has bespoke of one Moss of Barnet." The carillon, the sackbuts and the bespoke organ - which features in a number of florid concerto-like movements - all contributed to an orchestral texture that prompted Handel scholar Winton Dean to suggest that "in its richness and grandeur of orchestration, Saul has scarcely a rival in 18th-century music." Handel kept the trombones for Israel in Egypt, but its predominantly choral sound seems to have had a relatively lukewarm reception from audiences that had previously appreciated his operas.

    Saul (Act 1 scene 2, Symphony)

    The Sixteen

    Harry Christophers, conductor

    Saul (Act 1, Symphony)

    Saul (Act 2 scene 1, 'Envy, eldest born of Hell')

    Saul (Act 2 scene 5, Symphony)

    Saul (Act 3 scene 5, Elegy on the Death of Saul and Jonathan)

    Israel in Egypt, HWV 54 (Pt 2, 'The people shall hear and be afraid')

    The Monteverdi Choir

    The English Baroque Soloists

    John Eliot Gardiner, conductor

    Organ Concerto in F, HWV 295 (The Cuckoo and the Nightingale)

    Bob van Asperen, organ and direction

    Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

    Producer: Chris Barstow.

    Donald Macleod explains how Handel enriched the orchestration of his oratorio Saul.

    03God Save The King!20140423

    Donald Macleod focuses on what happened to Handel after the death of George I.

    This week, as part of the BBC's Eighteenth Century season, Donald Macleod explores the music Handel composed for the Georges, I and II, and to commemorate major events in their reigns.

    Today, George I dies, unexpectedly and unconventionally ? 'of a surfeit of watermelons' is the official word. One of his last constitutional acts was to sign Handel's naturalization papers, and now that the composer was a true Brit there was no bar to his composing the music for the new king's coronation. By all accounts the performances on the day were chaotic, but the scale and magnificence of the music made a lasting impression on those present, and has set the tone for coronations to this day. Handel's deeply competitive leading operatic ladies, Francesca Cuzzoni and Faustina Bordoni, set very much the wrong tone when they scrapped in front of Princess ? soon to be Queen ? Caroline; the King's Theatre, Haymarket, descended into chaos during a performance of Bononcini's opera Astianatte, as the two prima donnas screamed abuse at each other. Happily, no such excitements marred the première of Handel's new one, Riccardo Primo, an opera about Richard the Lionheart ? the perfect subject-matter to mark the new king's accession.

    03God Save The King!20140423

    This week, as part of the BBC's Eighteenth Century season, Donald Macleod explores the music Handel composed for the Georges, I and II, and to commemorate major events in their reigns.

    Today, George I dies, unexpectedly and unconventionally ? 'of a surfeit of watermelons' is the official word. One of his last constitutional acts was to sign Handel's naturalization papers, and now that the composer was a true Brit there was no bar to his composing the music for the new king's coronation. By all accounts the performances on the day were chaotic, but the scale and magnificence of the music made a lasting impression on those present, and has set the tone for coronations to this day. Handel's deeply competitive leading operatic ladies, Francesca Cuzzoni and Faustina Bordoni, set very much the wrong tone when they scrapped in front of Princess ? soon to be Queen ? Caroline; the King's Theatre, Haymarket, descended into chaos during a performance of Bononcini's opera Astianatte, as the two prima donnas screamed abuse at each other. Happily, no such excitements marred the première of Handel's new one, Riccardo Primo, an opera about Richard the Lionheart ? the perfect subject-matter to mark the new king's accession.

    Donald Macleod focuses on what happened to Handel after the death of George I.

    03Italian Influences20130306

    Though Saxon by birth, Handel is often claimed by the English as one of their own. But during his early 20s, before England was even a glint in his eye, he spent a spell of three-and-a-half years, from summer 1706 to early 1710, travelling the patchwork of states we now know as Italy. He certainly chose an 'interesting' time to go; the War of the Spanish Succession was in full swing, and its reverberations were felt the length and breadth of the Italian peninsula. For most of the period he was based in Rome, but he also visited Florence, Naples and Venice, fulfilling major commissions in each city. All this week, Donald Macleod charts the composer's Italian progress, with the help of novelist, biographer and avid Handelian, Jonathan Keates.

    Today's programme explores the impact Italian music and Italian musical virtuosity had on the young Handel, who absorbed the style of Corelli in particular, just as JS Bach would shortly soak up Vivaldi's influence - although the international Handel went direct to the source (Corelli was his Roman concertmaster), while the stay-at-home Bach relied on scores brought back from the travels of others. Another Italian musician to leave a notable mark on Handel was the soprano Margherita Durastanti, with whom he may or may not have had an extra-musical liaison.

    Donald Macleod on the impact Italian music and musical virtuosity had on the young Handel.

    Donald Macleod on the impact Italian music and musical virtuosity had on the young Handel.

    Though Saxon by birth, Handel is often claimed by the English as one of their own. But during his early 20s, before England was even a glint in his eye, he spent a spell of three-and-a-half years, from summer 1706 to early 1710, travelling the patchwork of states we now know as Italy. He certainly chose an 'interesting' time to go; the War of the Spanish Succession was in full swing, and its reverberations were felt the length and breadth of the Italian peninsula. For most of the period he was based in Rome, but he also visited Florence, Naples and Venice, fulfilling major commissions in each city. All this week, Donald Macleod charts the composer's Italian progress, with the help of novelist, biographer and avid Handelian, Jonathan Keates.

    Today's programme explores the impact Italian music and Italian musical virtuosity had on the young Handel, who absorbed the style of Corelli in particular, just as JS Bach would shortly soak up Vivaldi's influence - although the international Handel went direct to the source (Corelli was his Roman concertmaster), while the stay-at-home Bach relied on scores brought back from the travels of others. Another Italian musician to leave a notable mark on Handel was the soprano Margherita Durastanti, with whom he may or may not have had an extra-musical liaison.

    03Master Of The Orchestra20151125

    Handel takes charge at the Royal Academy of Music and becomes Composer of Music for His Majesty's Chapel Royal.

    At the height of his career, Handel is commissioned to compose music for the King's coronation, but there's trouble afoot at the Royal Academy with squabbling singers and exorbitant costs. Presented by Donald Macleod.

    Overture: Alessandro

    Armonia Atenea

    George Petrou, conductor

    Coronation Anthem: The King Shall Rejoice

    The Sixteen

    Harry Christophers, director

    Tolomeo, Re d'Egitto (extract from Act 3)

    Ann Hallenburg, mezzo (Tolomeo)

    II Complesso Barocco

    Alan Curtis, conductor

    Overture: Lotario

    Il Complesso Barocco

    Donald Macleod discusses the period when Handel took charge at the Royal Academy of Music.

    03The Opera Divo20100811

    iii) The Opera Divo

    Donald Macleod and Suzanne Aspden of Oxford University place Handel in the London opera scene of the early 18th century, a world fraught with feuding both on and off the stage.

    In this charged atmosphere Handel walked a tight-rope existence as he veered from soothing to shocking his captive opera audience.

    If you are in search of a good role model, an example of a life well spent, well navigated, look to George Frideric Handel's seventy-four years.

    From day one this divinely musical and decisive Saxon instinctively knew where to take himself and who to please.

    Donald Macleod is joined by Suzanne Aspden, a Handel expert from Oxford University armed with the latest in Handel scholarship.

    Faced with hours of Handel's sublime music and the composer's eventful life story they've whisked up a focus on Handel the borrower of his own and others' music - with a look at Agrippina the opera that so impressed Venice, and an electric peformance of Dixit Dominus.

    They discuss Handel the politician, how the composer was adopted in England and found long-term favour with the new Hanoverian monarchy.

    Some of the most arresting moments from Handel's operas Radamisto, Admeto, Partenope, and Ariodante dominate the third programme, a look at Handel the resourceful 'Opera divo'.

    And with ravishing music from his oratorios Esther, Saul, Samson and Messiah, Handel as 'Man of God' is also exposed, revealing the composer's ability to twist a ban on staging Biblical texts to his advantage.

    Today the spirit of Handel lives on and in the final programme 'The Idea of Handel' Donald and Suzanne broadcast 'The Anthem for the Foundling Hospital', the Violin Sonata in D Op.1 and a saucy aria from Semele, as they exhibit how the reputation of this great composer has evolved over the centuries.

    Donald Macleod on Handel's place in the London opera scene of the early 18th century.

    03The Opera Divo20100811

    iii) The Opera Divo

    Donald Macleod and Suzanne Aspden of Oxford University place Handel in the London opera scene of the early 18th century, a world fraught with feuding both on and off the stage.

    In this charged atmosphere Handel walked a tight-rope existence as he veered from soothing to shocking his captive opera audience.

    If you are in search of a good role model, an example of a life well spent, well navigated, look to George Frideric Handel's seventy-four years.

    From day one this divinely musical and decisive Saxon instinctively knew where to take himself and who to please.

    Donald Macleod is joined by Suzanne Aspden, a Handel expert from Oxford University armed with the latest in Handel scholarship.

    Faced with hours of Handel's sublime music and the composer's eventful life story they've whisked up a focus on Handel the borrower of his own and others' music - with a look at Agrippina the opera that so impressed Venice, and an electric peformance of Dixit Dominus.

    They discuss Handel the politician, how the composer was adopted in England and found long-term favour with the new Hanoverian monarchy.

    Some of the most arresting moments from Handel's operas Radamisto, Admeto, Partenope, and Ariodante dominate the third programme, a look at Handel the resourceful 'Opera divo'.

    And with ravishing music from his oratorios Esther, Saul, Samson and Messiah, Handel as 'Man of God' is also exposed, revealing the composer's ability to twist a ban on staging Biblical texts to his advantage.

    Today the spirit of Handel lives on and in the final programme 'The Idea of Handel' Donald and Suzanne broadcast 'The Anthem for the Foundling Hospital', the Violin Sonata in D Op.1 and a saucy aria from Semele, as they exhibit how the reputation of this great composer has evolved over the centuries.

    Donald Macleod on Handel's place in the London opera scene of the early 18th century.

    03The show must go on...20180131

    Donald Macleod introduces music by Handel from the new king's reign.

    In 1727 a new king came to the throne. By then Handel was a British citizen and he'd taken a lease on 25 Brook Street in London, so clearly he intended to stay. Spiralling costs forced the closure of the Royal Academy of Music but Handel was granted permission to continue staging operas at the King's Theatre, Haymarket, for another five years. Donald Macleod introduces an anthem from the set Handel was commissioned to write for the coronation of George II, a trio sonata full of music Handel recycled from his dramatic works and an excerpt from one of his 'magic' operas, the staging of which nearly ruined him.

    Handel arr Somervell: Silent Worship
    Kenneth McKellar (tenor)
    London Symphony Orchestra
    Conductor Adrian Boult

    Coronation Anthem: The King Shall Rejoice
    The Sixteen Chorus and Orchestra
    Conductor Harry Christophers

    Trio Sonata in G, Op 5 No 4
    Brook Street Band

    Orlando (excerpt)
    Sophie Karthäuser, soprano (Angelica)
    Bejun Mehta, countertenor (Orlando)
    Kristina Hammarström, mezzo-soprano (Medoro)
    B'Rock Orchestra
    Director René Jacobs.

    0420090416

    Donald Macleod explores Handel's oratorios, focusing on warlike works for troubled times.

    Come, ever-smiling liberty (Judas Maccabaeus, 1746)

  • achsah....myung-hee hynun (soprano)
  • caleb....konstantin wolff (bass)
  • collegium cartusianum
  • hyperion cda66641/2, cd 1 tr 18

    father of heav'n; wise man, flatt'ring, may deceive us (judas maccabeus)

  • hyperion cda66641/2, cd 2 trs 23, 13

    sinfonia; tis true, instinctive nature seldom points; here amid the shady woods; ah! was it not my cleopatra's voice? pow'rful guardians of all nature; treach'ry, o king, unheard of treachery; fury, with red sparkling eyes (alexander balus, act 3)

  • hyperion cda67241/2, cd 2 trs 13-19

    now give the army breath; heroes when with glory burning; indulgent heav'n hath heard my virgin pray'r; as cheers the sun the tender flow'r; sure i'm deceiv'd, with sorrow i behold! nations, who in future story; brethren and friends, what joy this scene imparts; flourish of warlike instruments; thus far our cause is favour'd by the lord; flourish of warlike instruments; o thou bright orb, great ruler of the day (joshua)

  • israeliltish woman....emma kirkby (soprano)
  • israelitish man....catherine denley (contralto)
  • joshua....james gilcrhist (tenor)
  • kolner kammerchor
  • mdg 332 1532-2, cd 2 trs 14-24.

    Donald Macleod explores handel's oratorios, focusing on warlike works for troubled times

  • othniel....alex potter (countertenor)
  • peter neumann (conductor)
  • priest....James Bowman (countertenor)
  • robert king (conductor)
  • the king's consort

  • 0420090416

    Donald Macleod explores Handel's oratorios, focusing on warlike works for troubled times.

    Come, ever-smiling liberty (Judas Maccabaeus, 1746)

  • achsah....myung-hee hynun (soprano)
  • caleb....konstantin wolff (bass)
  • collegium cartusianum
  • hyperion cda66641/2, cd 1 tr 18

    father of heav'n; wise man, flatt'ring, may deceive us (judas maccabeus)

  • hyperion cda66641/2, cd 2 trs 23, 13

    sinfonia; tis true, instinctive nature seldom points; here amid the shady woods; ah! was it not my cleopatra's voice? pow'rful guardians of all nature; treach'ry, o king, unheard of treachery; fury, with red sparkling eyes (alexander balus, act 3)

  • hyperion cda67241/2, cd 2 trs 13-19

    now give the army breath; heroes when with glory burning; indulgent heav'n hath heard my virgin pray'r; as cheers the sun the tender flow'r; sure i'm deceiv'd, with sorrow i behold! nations, who in future story; brethren and friends, what joy this scene imparts; flourish of warlike instruments; thus far our cause is favour'd by the lord; flourish of warlike instruments; o thou bright orb, great ruler of the day (joshua)

  • israeliltish woman....emma kirkby (soprano)
  • israelitish man....catherine denley (contralto)
  • joshua....james gilcrhist (tenor)
  • kolner kammerchor
  • mdg 332 1532-2, cd 2 trs 14-24.

    Donald Macleod explores handel's oratorios, focusing on warlike works for troubled times

  • othniel....alex potter (countertenor)
  • peter neumann (conductor)
  • priest....James Bowman (countertenor)
  • robert king (conductor)
  • the king's consort

  • 04*20090115

    Donald Macleod explores John Mainwaring's 1760 biography of Handel, focusing on the composer's life in London during the 1720s and 30s, when he devoted most of his time to the challenging business of working in the opera scene. It required a robust ego, a shrewd business sense and a strong character.

    Part of Radio 3's Composers of the Year 2009 season.

    Scipione: Scoglio d'immota fronte

  • Andrew Parrott (director)
  • Simon Preston (director)
  • archiv 4100302

    parnasso in festa (opening of part 2)

  • choir of westminster abbey
  • christophe rousset (director)
  • diana moore (mezzo-soprano)
  • hyperion cda 67701/2, cd1 tracks 22-24

    israel in egypt (end of part 2)

  • les talens lyriques
  • matthew halls (director)
  • naive e8894, track 1

    my heart is inditing

  • rebecca outram, carolyn sampson (soprano)
  • ruth clegg (alto)
  • sandrine piau (soprano)
  • taverner choir and players
  • the choir of the king's consort
  • the english concert
  • the king's consort
  • virgin classics vmd5613502, cd1 tr 21-22, cd 2 tr 1-7.

    Donald Macleod explores handel's work in opera in london in the 1720s and 30s

  • 04Agrippina20130307

    Though Saxon by birth, Handel is often claimed by the English as one of their own. But during his early 20s, before England was even a glint in his eye, he spent a spell of three-and-a-half years, from summer 1706 to early 1710, travelling the patchwork of states we now know as Italy. He certainly chose an 'interesting' time to go; the War of the Spanish Succession was in full swing, and its reverberations were felt the length and breadth of the Italian peninsula. For most of the period he was based in Rome, but he also visited Florence, Naples and Venice, fulfilling major commissions in each city. All this week, Donald Macleod charts the composer's Italian progress, with the help of novelist, biographer and avid Handelian, Jonathan Keates.

    Today's programme focuses on a single work - Handel's first operatic smash hit, and a coals-to-Newcastle venture if ever there was one - Agrippina, written for the leading house in the birthplace of opera, Venice.

    Donald Macleod explores Handel's first operatic smash hit, Agrippina.

    Donald Macleod explores Handel's first operatic smash hit, Agrippina.

    Though Saxon by birth, Handel is often claimed by the English as one of their own. But during his early 20s, before England was even a glint in his eye, he spent a spell of three-and-a-half years, from summer 1706 to early 1710, travelling the patchwork of states we now know as Italy. He certainly chose an 'interesting' time to go; the War of the Spanish Succession was in full swing, and its reverberations were felt the length and breadth of the Italian peninsula. For most of the period he was based in Rome, but he also visited Florence, Naples and Venice, fulfilling major commissions in each city. All this week, Donald Macleod charts the composer's Italian progress, with the help of novelist, biographer and avid Handelian, Jonathan Keates.

    Today's programme focuses on a single work - Handel's first operatic smash hit, and a coals-to-Newcastle venture if ever there was one - Agrippina, written for the leading house in the birthplace of opera, Venice.

    04Handel and Milton20161208

    04Handel and Milton20161208

    Donald Macleod explains how Handel left the opera business for good.

    04Handel And Milton20161208

    This week Donald Macleod focuses on Handel the organist. Today, Handel gets out of the opera business for good, and his new oratorio gets a warm reception - in frosty conditions.

    When Handel's collaborator Charles Jennens tried to interest him in "a collection from Scripture" - Messiah, he called it - the composer wasn't initially interested. But when Jennens steered him in the direction of the writer whose work was probably, after the Bible, the most widely read and admired in this country, John Milton, Handel responded with enthusiasm. The initial proposal was for a work based on two of Milton's poems, L'Allegro (the cheerful man) and Il Penseroso (the pensive man), to which Jennens then added text for a third character, Il Moderato - the moderate man. If this plotless concoction sounds like an unpromising basis for a composer of Handel's dramatic flair to build on, the end result - the oratorio L'Allegro, Il Penseroso ed Il Moderato - is full of simply wonderful, poetic music that evokes the landscapes and pastoral moods of Handel's adoptive country. There was nothing pastoral about the conditions of the première. Because the winter of 1739-40 was unusually severe, the initial run of performances had to be pushed back from New Year to mid-February. Even then, it was so cold in the theatre at Lincoln's Inn Fields that a newspaper ad was placed to reassure punters that the venue had been "secur'd against the cold by having curtains placed before every door, and constant fires being ordered to be kept in the House 'till the time of the Performance." Following the great success of L'Allegro, Il penseroso ed Il moderato came a pair of operatic flops, Imeneo and Deidamia, after which Handel devoted himself more or less exclusively to oratorio - producing first Messiah, about which he had had a change of heart, then Samson, inspired by another Milton poem, Samson Agonistes. As was Handel's usual practice, both L'Allegro and Samson were provided with fine organ concerti, written specially for the occasion.

    L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato (Pt 1, 'Haste thee, nymph, and bring with thee')

    Jeremy Ovenden, tenor

    Gabrieli Consort and Players

    Paul McCreesh, conductor

    Organ Concerto in B flat, Op 7 No 1 (HWV 306)

    William Whitehead, organ

    Gabrieli Players

    L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato (Pt 3, duet: 'As steals the morn upon the night')

    Gillian Webster, soprano

    Samson, HWV 57 (Pt 2, 'Return, O God of Hosts!')

    The Sixteen

    The Symphony of Harmony and Invention

    Harry Christophers, conductor

    Organ Concerto in A, Op 7 No 2 (HWV 307)

    Ton Koopman, organ

    Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra.

    Donald Macleod explains how Handel left the opera business for good.

    04Handel and Milton20161208

    This week Donald Macleod focuses on Handel the organist. Today, Handel gets out of the opera business for good, and his new oratorio gets a warm reception - in frosty conditions.

    When Handel's collaborator Charles Jennens tried to interest him in "a collection from Scripture" - Messiah, he called it - the composer wasn't initially interested. But when Jennens steered him in the direction of the writer whose work was probably, after the Bible, the most widely read and admired in this country, John Milton, Handel responded with enthusiasm. The initial proposal was for a work based on two of Milton's poems, L'Allegro (the cheerful man) and Il Penseroso (the pensive man), to which Jennens then added text for a third character, Il Moderato - the moderate man. If this plotless concoction sounds like an unpromising basis for a composer of Handel's dramatic flair to build on, the end result - the oratorio L'Allegro, Il Penseroso ed Il Moderato - is full of simply wonderful, poetic music that evokes the landscapes and pastoral moods of Handel's adoptive country. There was nothing pastoral about the conditions of the première. Because the winter of 1739-40 was unusually severe, the initial run of performances had to be pushed back from New Year to mid-February. Even then, it was so cold in the theatre at Lincoln's Inn Fields that a newspaper ad was placed to reassure punters that the venue had been "secur'd against the cold by having curtains placed before every door, and constant fires being ordered to be kept in the House 'till the time of the Performance." Following the great success of L'Allegro, Il penseroso ed Il moderato came a pair of operatic flops, Imeneo and Deidamia, after which Handel devoted himself more or less exclusively to oratorio - producing first Messiah, about which he had had a change of heart, then Samson, inspired by another Milton poem, Samson Agonistes. As was Handel's usual practice, both L'Allegro and Samson were provided with fine organ concerti, written specially for the occasion.

    L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato (Pt 1, 'Haste thee, nymph, and bring with thee')

    Jeremy Ovenden, tenor

    Gabrieli Consort and Players

    Paul McCreesh, conductor

    Organ Concerto in B flat, Op 7 No 1 (HWV 306)

    William Whitehead, organ

    Gabrieli Players

    Paul McCreesh, conductor

    L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato (Pt 3, duet: 'As steals the morn upon the night')

    Gillian Webster, soprano

    Jeremy Ovenden, tenor

    Gabrieli Players

    Paul McCreesh, conductor

    Samson, HWV 57 (Pt 2, 'Return, O God of Hosts!')

    The Sixteen

    The Symphony of Harmony and Invention

    Harry Christophers, conductor

    Organ Concerto in A, Op 7 No 2 (HWV 307)

    Ton Koopman, organ

    Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra.

    04Man Of God2010081220110113

    Donald Macleod and Suzanne Aspden examine Handel's spiritual leanings.

    iv) Man of God

    Donald Macleod and Suzanne Aspden of Oxford University put Handel's spirtual beliefs under the microscope and explain the circumstances that led to the composer repositioning himself as a composer of oratorios.

    If you are in search of a good role model, an example of a life well spent, well navigated, look to George Frideric Handel's seventy-four years.

    From day one this divinely musical and decisive Saxon instinctively knew where to take himself and who to please.

    Donald Macleod is joined by Suzanne Aspden, a Handel expert from Oxford University armed with the latest in Handel scholarship.

    Faced with hours of Handel's sublime music and the composer's eventful life story they've whisked up a focus on Handel the borrower of his own and others' music - with a look at Agrippina the opera that so impressed Venice, and an electric peformance of Dixit Dominus.

    They discuss Handel the politician, how the composer was adopted in England and found long-term favour with the new Hanoverian monarchy.

    Some of the most arresting moments from Handel's operas Radamisto, Admeto, Partenope, and Ariodante dominate the third programme, a look at Handel the resourceful 'Opera divo'.

    And with ravishing music from his oratorios Esther, Saul, Samson and Messiah, Handel as 'Man of God' is also exposed, revealing the composer's ability to twist a ban on staging Biblical texts to his advantage.

    Today the spirit of Handel lives on and in the final programme 'The Idea of Handel' Donald and Suzanne broadcast 'The Anthem for the Foundling Hospital', the Violin Sonata in D Op.1 and a saucy aria from Semele, as they exhibit how the reputation of this great composer has evolved over the centuries.

    04Man Of God2010081220110113

    Donald Macleod and Suzanne Aspden examine Handel's spiritual leanings.

    iv) Man of God

    Donald Macleod and Suzanne Aspden of Oxford University put Handel's spirtual beliefs under the microscope and explain the circumstances that led to the composer repositioning himself as a composer of oratorios.

    If you are in search of a good role model, an example of a life well spent, well navigated, look to George Frideric Handel's seventy-four years.

    From day one this divinely musical and decisive Saxon instinctively knew where to take himself and who to please.

    Donald Macleod is joined by Suzanne Aspden, a Handel expert from Oxford University armed with the latest in Handel scholarship.

    Faced with hours of Handel's sublime music and the composer's eventful life story they've whisked up a focus on Handel the borrower of his own and others' music - with a look at Agrippina the opera that so impressed Venice, and an electric peformance of Dixit Dominus.

    They discuss Handel the politician, how the composer was adopted in England and found long-term favour with the new Hanoverian monarchy.

    Some of the most arresting moments from Handel's operas Radamisto, Admeto, Partenope, and Ariodante dominate the third programme, a look at Handel the resourceful 'Opera divo'.

    And with ravishing music from his oratorios Esther, Saul, Samson and Messiah, Handel as 'Man of God' is also exposed, revealing the composer's ability to twist a ban on staging Biblical texts to his advantage.

    Today the spirit of Handel lives on and in the final programme 'The Idea of Handel' Donald and Suzanne broadcast 'The Anthem for the Foundling Hospital', the Violin Sonata in D Op.1 and a saucy aria from Semele, as they exhibit how the reputation of this great composer has evolved over the centuries.

    04Much Ado About Not Much20140424

    Donald Macleod focuses on the death of Handel's friend and supporter Queen Caroline.

    This week, as part of the BBC's Eighteenth Century season, Donald Macleod explores the music Handel composed for the Georges, I and II, and to commemorate major events in their reigns.

    Today, Handel bids a musical farewell to his friend and devoted supporter Queen Caroline, dead within ten years of her coronation. Had she survived longer, she would doubtless have joined the long list of royal subscribers to her favourite composer's Concerti Grossi, published in 1739. Four years on, her husband George II became the last British monarch to lead his troops into battle ? at Dettingen, south-east of Frankfurt, where his makeshift army defeated the French. Handel seems to have mistaken this minor skirmish for a major victory, and decided to mark it with a grand Te Deum. He conceived it for the enormous spaces of St Paul's Cathedral, but in the event it was performed in the much more intimate surroundings of the Chapel Royal ?a musical quart in an architectural pint pot.

    04Much Ado About Not Much20140424

    This week, as part of the BBC's Eighteenth Century season, Donald Macleod explores the music Handel composed for the Georges, I and II, and to commemorate major events in their reigns.

    Today, Handel bids a musical farewell to his friend and devoted supporter Queen Caroline, dead within ten years of her coronation. Had she survived longer, she would doubtless have joined the long list of royal subscribers to her favourite composer's Concerti Grossi, published in 1739. Four years on, her husband George II became the last British monarch to lead his troops into battle ? at Dettingen, south-east of Frankfurt, where his makeshift army defeated the French. Handel seems to have mistaken this minor skirmish for a major victory, and decided to mark it with a grand Te Deum. He conceived it for the enormous spaces of St Paul's Cathedral, but in the event it was performed in the much more intimate surroundings of the Chapel Royal ?a musical quart in an architectural pint pot.

    Donald Macleod focuses on the death of Handel's friend and supporter Queen Caroline.

    04Rise Of The Oratorio20151126

    How Handel's rivalry with the Opera of the Nobility produced considerable results.

    Donald Macleod recounts how Handels rivalry with the Opera of the Nobility drove the composer to produce his own glorious season of opera and oratorio.

    Overture: Deborah:

    The King's Consort

    Robert King, conductor

    Alcina (extract from Act 2)

    Joyce DiDonato, soprano (Alcina)

    Il Complesso Barocco

    Alan Curtis, conductor

    Organ Concerto in G major, Op 4 No 1

    Paul Nicholson, organ

    The Sixteen

    Harry Christophers, conductor

    Sweet bird, that shuns't the noise of folly (L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato)

    Gillian Webster, soprano

    Gabrieli Consort

    Paul McCreesh, conductor.

    04Rise Of The Oratorio20151126

    How Handel's rivalry with the Opera of the Nobility produced considerable results.

    Donald Macleod recounts how Handels rivalry with the Opera of the Nobility drove the composer to produce his own glorious season of opera and oratorio.

    Overture: Deborah:

    The King's Consort

    Robert King, conductor

    Alcina (extract from Act 2)

    Joyce DiDonato, soprano (Alcina)

    Il Complesso Barocco

    Alan Curtis, conductor

    Organ Concerto in G major, Op 4 No 1

    Paul Nicholson, organ

    The Sixteen

    Harry Christophers, conductor

    Sweet bird, that shuns't the noise of folly (L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato)

    Gillian Webster, soprano

    Gabrieli Consort

    Paul McCreesh, conductor.

    04Rivalry20180201

    Donald Macleod sees trouble brewing when a second opera company arrives on the scene.

    Handel found himself in competition with a rival company which set about systematically poaching all but one of Handel's leading singers. The two companies competed for audiences over the next four seasons before both eventually failed. Donald Macleod introduces Handel's last great operatic triumph, one of the organ concertos which he began to introduce into the intervals of his new oratorios and part of his dramatic setting of an ode by the hugely popular author John Dryden.

    Alcina (excerpts)
    Renée Fleming, soprano (Alcina)
    Timothy Robinson, tenor (Oronte)
    Les Arts Florissants
    Conductor William Christie

    Organ Concerto in F, Op 4 No 5
    Matthew Halls (organ)
    Sonnerie
    Director Monica Huggett

    Alexander's Feast (excerpt)
    Sophie Bevan (soprano)
    Ed Lyon (tenor)
    Ludus Baroque
    Conductor Richard Neville-Towle.

    05Last Thoughts, Fading Light20161209

    05Last Thoughts, Fading Light20161209

    Donald Macleod focuses on Handel's Joshua becoming a hit and how Theodora came to flop.

    05Last Thoughts, Fading Light20161209

    This week Donald Macleod focuses on Handel the organist. Today, Joshua's a hit, Theodora's a flop - as Handel said, "there was room enough to dance there, when that was performed".

    Written at great speed in 1747 during the most disastrous months of the War of the Austrian Succession, Handel's oratorio Joshua tapped in to contemporary events with a tale of conflict, heroism and deliverance, and was not surprisingly a huge success with its first audiences. By contrast, the bleak and inward-looking Theodora - about the Christian martyr of that name and her Roman lover Didymus - failed to make an impression, and ran for just three performances. It's now widely regarded as one of Handel's finest works - the last thoughts of a great master. A month after he finished Theodora, Handel noted what he called a severe "relaxation" of his left eye. Within two years his blindness would be complete. Even then he continued to play the organ, though now he had to be guided to it, then back towards the audience to take his bow.

    Organ Concerto in D minor, Op 7 No 4 (HWV 309) (4th mvt, Allegro)

    Bob van Asperen, organ and direction

    Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

    Sinfonia in B flat, HWV 347

    Concerto Köln

    Joshua, HWV 64 (Act 2, 'Glory to God!')

    James Gilchrist, tenor (Joshua)

    Kölner Kammerchor

    Collegium Cartusianum

    Peter Neumann, conductor

    Organ Concerto in G minor, Op 7 No 5 (HWV 310)

    Paul Nicholson, organ

    Brandenburg Consort

    Roy Goodman, conductor and harpsichord continuo

    Theodora, HWV 68 (Act 3, 'Streams of pleasure ever flowing'; 'Thither let our hearts aspire')

    Robin Blaze, countertenor (Didymus)

    Susan Gritton, soprano (Theodora)

    Gabrieli Players

    Paul McCreesh, conductor

    Organ Concerto in B flat, Op 7 No 3 (HWV 308)

    Richard Egarr, organ

    Academy of Ancient Music

    Producer: Chris Barstow.

    05Last Thoughts, Fading Light20161209

    This week Donald Macleod focuses on Handel the organist. Today, Joshua's a hit, Theodora's a flop - as Handel said, "there was room enough to dance there, when that was performed".

    Written at great speed in 1747 during the most disastrous months of the War of the Austrian Succession, Handel's oratorio Joshua tapped in to contemporary events with a tale of conflict, heroism and deliverance, and was not surprisingly a huge success with its first audiences. By contrast, the bleak and inward-looking Theodora - about the Christian martyr of that name and her Roman lover Didymus - failed to make an impression, and ran for just three performances. It's now widely regarded as one of Handel's finest works - the last thoughts of a great master. A month after he finished Theodora, Handel noted what he called a severe "relaxation" of his left eye. Within two years his blindness would be complete. Even then he continued to play the organ, though now he had to be guided to it, then back towards the audience to take his bow.

    Organ Concerto in D minor, Op 7 No 4 (HWV 309) (4th mvt, Allegro)

    Bob van Asperen, organ and direction

    Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

    Sinfonia in B flat, HWV 347

    Concerto Köln

    Joshua, HWV 64 (Act 2, 'Glory to God!')

    James Gilchrist, tenor (Joshua)

    Kölner Kammerchor

    Collegium Cartusianum

    Peter Neumann, conductor

    Organ Concerto in G minor, Op 7 No 5 (HWV 310)

    Paul Nicholson, organ

    Brandenburg Consort

    Roy Goodman, conductor and harpsichord continuo

    Theodora, HWV 68 (Act 3, 'Streams of pleasure ever flowing'; 'Thither let our hearts aspire')

    Robin Blaze, countertenor (Didymus)

    Susan Gritton, soprano (Theodora)

    Gabrieli Players

    Paul McCreesh, conductor

    Organ Concerto in B flat, Op 7 No 3 (HWV 308)

    Richard Egarr, organ

    Academy of Ancient Music

    Producer: Chris Barstow.

    Donald Macleod focuses on Handel's Joshua becoming a hit and how Theodora came to flop.

    05Reinvention20180202

    Donald Macleod looks on as Handel reinvents himself as a composer of English oratorio.

    With income from opera drying up, Handel turned to other means of making a living. He realised there was money to be made with his new English oratorio, and the publication of his instrumental works provided him with another source of income.
    Donald Macleod introduces one of Handel's last operas, full of light-hearted, amorous intrigue, the first of a set of twelve concerti grossi which are the finest things of their kind he ever composed, and part of the oratorio widely regarded as Handel's most fundamentally English creation.

    Serse (excerpts)
    Anna Stéphany, mezzo-soprano (Serse)
    Hilary Summers, alto (Amasatre)
    Brindley Sherratt, bass (Ariodate)
    Early Opera Company
    Conductor, Christian Curnyn

    Concerto grosso in G, Op 6 No 1
    Gabrieli Players
    Conductor Paul McMcreesh

    L'Allegro, Il Penseroso ed Il Moderato (Part 3: Il Moderato)
    Gillian Webster (soprano)
    Jeremy Ovenden (tenor)
    Peter Harvey (baritone)
    Gabrieli Consort and Players
    Conductor Paul McMcreesh.

    05The Charitable Will Be Remembered20151127

    Donald Macleod focuses on the debut in Ireland of Handel's most enduring work, Messiah.

    Handel's most enduring work, Messiah, debuts in Ireland, and the composer becomes involved with Thomas Coram's Foundling Hospital.

    Also featuring Handel's tribute to the last reigning British monarch to lead his troops into battle. Presented by Donald Macleod.

    I know that my redeemer liveth (Messiah)

    Caroline Sampson, soprano

    The Sixteen

    Harry Christophers, conductor

    The Dettingen Anthem

    Choir of Westminster Abbey

    English Concert

    Simon Preston, conductor

    Enjoy the sweet Elysian grove (Alceste)

    Paul Elliott, tenor

    Academy of Ancient Music

    Christopher Hogwood, conductor

    Anthem for the Foundling Hospital

    Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford

    05The Charitable Will Be Remembered20151127

    Handel's most enduring work, Messiah, debuts in Ireland, and the composer becomes involved with Thomas Coram's Foundling Hospital.

    Also featuring Handel's tribute to the last reigning British monarch to lead his troops into battle. Presented by Donald Macleod.

    I know that my redeemer liveth (Messiah)

    Caroline Sampson, soprano

    The Sixteen

    Harry Christophers, conductor

    The Dettingen Anthem

    Choir of Westminster Abbey

    English Concert

    Simon Preston, conductor

    Enjoy the sweet Elysian grove (Alceste)

    Paul Elliott, tenor

    Academy of Ancient Music

    Christopher Hogwood, conductor

    Anthem for the Foundling Hospital

    Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford

    Donald Macleod focuses on the debut in Ireland of Handel's most enduring work, Messiah.

    05 LAST20090417

    Donald Macleod explores Handel's oratorios, focusing on his late burst of masterpieces.

    Solomon (excerpt from Act 1)

  • english baroque soloists
  • first harlot....joan rodgers (soprano)
  • harlot....della jones (mezzo-soprano)
  • john eliot gardiner (conductor)
  • monteverdi choir
  • philips 412 612-2, cd 1 tr 14

    solomon (excerpts from act 2)

  • philips 412 612-2, cd 2 trs 2-4

    theodora (excerpts from act 1)

  • solomon....carolyn watkinson (mezzo-soprano)

  • 05 LAST20090417

    Donald Macleod explores Handel's oratorios, focusing on his late burst of masterpieces.

    Solomon (excerpt from Act 1)

  • english baroque soloists
  • first harlot....joan rodgers (soprano)
  • harlot....della jones (mezzo-soprano)
  • john eliot gardiner (conductor)
  • monteverdi choir
  • philips 412 612-2, cd 1 tr 14

    solomon (excerpts from act 2)

  • philips 412 612-2, cd 2 trs 2-4

    theodora (excerpts from act 1)

  • solomon....carolyn watkinson (mezzo-soprano)

  • 05 LAST*20090116

    Donald Macleod explores John Mainwaring's 1760 biography of Handel, focusing on a golden decade of enduring oratorios that would seal his reputation, and gaining a rare insight into the composer's elusive personality.

    Part of Radio 3's Composers of the Year 2009 season.

    Infernal spirits (Saul)

  • archiv 4534642, cd1, track 24

    organ concerto no 4 in f

  • archiv 4745102, cd 3, track 2

    all we like sheep (messiah)

  • avie, av2055 tracks 1-4

    judas maccabeus (end of act 3)

  • boston baroque
  • david thomas (bass)
  • gabrieli consort and players
  • gabrieli players
  • harmonia mundi, hmu90707778 cd2 tracks 21-23

    music for the royal fireworks

  • lisa saffer (soprano)
  • martin pearlman (director)
  • matthew halls (organ)
  • monica huggett (director)
  • nicholas mcgegan (director)
  • patricia spence (mezzo-soprano)
  • paul agnew (tenor)
  • paul mccreesh (director)
  • philharmonia baroque orchestra
  • sonnerie
  • telarc cd80594, tracks 1-5.

    Donald Macleod explores a decade of enduring oratorios that would seal handel's reputation

  • uc berkeley chamber chorus

  • 05 LASTEchoes Of Italy20130308

    Though Saxon by birth, Handel is often claimed by the English as one of their own. But during his early 20s, before England was even a glint in his eye, he spent a spell of three-and-a-half years, from summer 1706 to early 1710, travelling the patchwork of states we now know as Italy. He certainly chose an 'interesting' time to go; the War of the Spanish Succession was in full swing, and its reverberations were felt the length and breadth of the Italian peninsula. For most of the period he was based in Rome, but he also visited Florence, Naples and Venice, fulfilling major commissions in each city. All this week, Donald Macleod charts the composer's Italian progress, with the help of novelist, biographer and avid Handelian, Jonathan Keates.

    The last of the week's programmes considers the subsequent reverberations of Handel's Italian experience: the Italian cantata movements immortalized in Messiah; the emergence of one of the composer's best-loved works, Acis and Galatea, from its Italian prototype; Handel's hommage to Corelli in his set of 12 concerti grossi; and the oratorio that framed his musical career - a 'triumph' of recycling.

    Donald Macleod explores after-echoes of Handel's Italian years in his English works.

    Donald Macleod explores after-echoes of Handel's Italian years in his English works.

    Though Saxon by birth, Handel is often claimed by the English as one of their own. But during his early 20s, before England was even a glint in his eye, he spent a spell of three-and-a-half years, from summer 1706 to early 1710, travelling the patchwork of states we now know as Italy. He certainly chose an 'interesting' time to go; the War of the Spanish Succession was in full swing, and its reverberations were felt the length and breadth of the Italian peninsula. For most of the period he was based in Rome, but he also visited Florence, Naples and Venice, fulfilling major commissions in each city. All this week, Donald Macleod charts the composer's Italian progress, with the help of novelist, biographer and avid Handelian, Jonathan Keates.

    The last of the week's programmes considers the subsequent reverberations of Handel's Italian experience: the Italian cantata movements immortalized in Messiah; the emergence of one of the composer's best-loved works, Acis and Galatea, from its Italian prototype; Handel's hommage to Corelli in his set of 12 concerti grossi; and the oratorio that framed his musical career - a 'triumph' of recycling.

    05 LASTThe Idea Of Handel2010081320110114

    v) The Idea of Handel

    Donald Macleod and Suzanne Aspden of Oxford University chart Handel's final years and look at how his reputation and music have been viewed by subsequent generations.

    Includes a rare chance to hear a complete peformance of The Anthem for the Foundling Hospital.

    If you are in search of a good role model, an example of a life well spent, well navigated, look to George Frideric Handel's seventy-four years.

    From day one this divinely musical and decisive Saxon instinctively knew where to take himself and who to please.

    Donald Macleod is joined by Suzanne Aspden, a Handel expert from Oxford University armed with the latest in Handel scholarship.

    Faced with hours of Handel's sublime music and the composer's eventful life story they've whisked up a focus on Handel the borrower of his own and others' music - with a look at Agrippina the opera that so impressed Venice, and an electric peformance of Dixit Dominus.

    They discuss Handel the politician, how the composer was adopted in England and found long-term favour with the new Hanoverian monarchy.

    Some of the most arresting moments from Handel's operas Radamisto, Admeto, Partenope, and Ariodante dominate the third programme, a look at Handel the resourceful 'Opera divo'.

    And with ravishing music from his oratorios Esther, Saul, Samson and Messiah, Handel as 'Man of God' is also exposed, revealing the composer's ability to twist a ban on staging Biblical texts to his advantage.

    Today the spirit of Handel lives on and in the final programme 'The Idea of Handel' Donald and Suzanne broadcast 'The Anthem for the Foundling Hospital', the Violin Sonata in D Op.1 and a saucy aria from Semele, as they exhibit how the reputation of this great composer has evolved over the centuries.

    Donald Macleod charts Handel's final years and considers his image to later generations.

    05 LASTWar And Peace20140425

    Donald Macleod focuses on music Handel wrote in response to major political events.

    This week, as part of the BBC's Eighteenth Century season, Donald Macleod explores the music Handel composed for the Georges, I and II, and to commemorate major events in their reigns.

    Today, explosions both warlike and peaceful. On the 19th of August 1745, Bonnie Prince Charlie pitched up on the coast of Scotland for one last crack at toppling the house of Hanover ? thereby setting in train a chain of events that's become known to history as the Jacobite Rising of '45. Charles and his Highlanders made it as far south as Derby before being turned back and eventually routed at the Battle of Culloden. In response, Handel went into patriotic overdrive; his oratorio Judas Maccabaeus celebrates the hero of the hour, Prince William, Duke of Cumberland. With the Jacobites quelled, British troops could be redeployed on the Continent in the continuing conflict over the Austrian Succession. Its resolution in the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle gave Handel another opportunity for sonic celebration: his Music for the Royal Fireworks.

    Judas Maccabaeus, HWV 63, (Act 3; 'See, the conqu'ring hero comes!')

    Choir of New College, Oxford

    King's Consort

    Robert King (conductor)

    Occasional Oratorio, HWV 62; Ouverture

    The English Concert

    Trevor Pinnock, harpsichord and direction

    'From scourging rebellion (A Song on the Victory obtained over the Rebels)', HWV 228 no.9

    Charles Daniels, Andrew Carwood, Simon Davies, tenors

    Adrian Butterfield, violin

    Katherine Sharman, cello

    David Miller, theorbo

    Paul Nicholson, harpsichord

    Judas Maccabaeus, HWV 63 (Act 1; conclusion)

    Emma Kirkby, soprano (Israelitish Woman)

    Catherine Denley, mezzo-soprano (Israelitish Man)

    Jamie MacDougall, tenor (Judas Maccabaeus)

    Robert King, conductor

    Music for the Royal Fireworks, HWV 351 (original version) The English Concert

    Producer: Chris Barstow.

    Donald Macleod focuses on music Handel wrote in response to major political events.

    This week, as part of the BBC's Eighteenth Century season, Donald Macleod explores the music Handel composed for the Georges, I and II, and to commemorate major events in their reigns.

    Today, explosions both warlike and peaceful. On the 19th of August 1745, Bonnie Prince Charlie pitched up on the coast of Scotland for one last crack at toppling the house of Hanover ? thereby setting in train a chain of events that's become known to history as the Jacobite Rising of '45. Charles and his Highlanders made it as far south as Derby before being turned back and eventually routed at the Battle of Culloden. In response, Handel went into patriotic overdrive; his oratorio Judas Maccabaeus celebrates the hero of the hour, Prince William, Duke of Cumberland. With the Jacobites quelled, British troops could be redeployed on the Continent in the continuing conflict over the Austrian Succession. Its resolution in the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle gave Handel another opportunity for sonic celebration: his Music for the Royal Fireworks.

    Judas Maccabaeus, HWV 63, (Act 3; 'See, the conqu'ring hero comes!')

    Choir of New College, Oxford

    King's Consort

    Robert King (conductor)

    Occasional Oratorio, HWV 62; Ouverture

    The English Concert

    Trevor Pinnock, harpsichord and direction

    'From scourging rebellion (A Song on the Victory obtained over the Rebels)', HWV 228 no.9

    Charles Daniels, Andrew Carwood, Simon Davies, tenors

    Adrian Butterfield, violin

    Katherine Sharman, cello

    David Miller, theorbo

    Paul Nicholson, harpsichord

    Judas Maccabaeus, HWV 63 (Act 1; conclusion)

    Emma Kirkby, soprano (Israelitish Woman)

    Catherine Denley, mezzo-soprano (Israelitish Man)

    Jamie MacDougall, tenor (Judas Maccabaeus)

    Robert King, conductor

    Music for the Royal Fireworks, HWV 351 (original version) The English Concert

    Producer: Chris Barstow.

    05 LASTWar And Peace20140425

    This week, as part of the BBC's Eighteenth Century season, Donald Macleod explores the music Handel composed for the Georges, I and II, and to commemorate major events in their reigns.

    Today, explosions both warlike and peaceful. On the 19th of August 1745, Bonnie Prince Charlie pitched up on the coast of Scotland for one last crack at toppling the house of Hanover ? thereby setting in train a chain of events that's become known to history as the Jacobite Rising of '45. Charles and his Highlanders made it as far south as Derby before being turned back and eventually routed at the Battle of Culloden. In response, Handel went into patriotic overdrive; his oratorio Judas Maccabaeus celebrates the hero of the hour, Prince William, Duke of Cumberland. With the Jacobites quelled, British troops could be redeployed on the Continent in the continuing conflict over the Austrian Succession. Its resolution in the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle gave Handel another opportunity for sonic celebration: his Music for the Royal Fireworks.

    Judas Maccabaeus, HWV 63, (Act 3; 'See, the conqu'ring hero comes!')

    Choir of New College, Oxford

    King's Consort

    Robert King (conductor)

    Occasional Oratorio, HWV 62; Ouverture

    The English Concert

    Trevor Pinnock, harpsichord and direction

    'From scourging rebellion (A Song on the Victory obtained over the Rebels)', HWV 228 no.9

    Charles Daniels, Andrew Carwood, Simon Davies, tenors

    Adrian Butterfield, violin

    Katherine Sharman, cello

    David Miller, theorbo

    Paul Nicholson, harpsichord

    Judas Maccabaeus, HWV 63 (Act 1; conclusion)

    Emma Kirkby, soprano (Israelitish Woman)

    Catherine Denley, mezzo-soprano (Israelitish Man)

    Jamie MacDougall, tenor (Judas Maccabaeus)

    Robert King, conductor

    Music for the Royal Fireworks, HWV 351 (original version) The English Concert

    Producer: Chris Barstow.

    Donald Macleod focuses on music Handel wrote in response to major political events.