'Tis the season for concerts of the Messiah, composed by German composer Georg Friedrich Händel. (Which means I'm off to sing this weekend so I'm publishing this blog post early for you.) According to the legend, he locked himself in a room and composed night and day; according to his notes, he did write the entire piece in 24 days. The original autograph (what Händel wrote) was 259 pages long (source).
Here are 5 facts you might not have known about Händel:
1. Händel was born in 1685 in Halle, Germany. This was the same year Johann Sebastian Bach was born.
2. It's traditional in the English-speaking world to stand when the performers begin the Hallelujah Chorus. This tradition began supposedly when the Messiah was being performed in London and King George II stood. We've all been following suit ever since (source).
Short story: In Germany they don't stand for the Hallelujah Chorus. I went to a Nokia Night of the Proms performance in Dortmund shortly before Christmas way back in 2003 and the musicians performed the Hallelujah Chorus...I started to stand up, but then realized I was the only person standing in a crowd thousands...so I sat back down. #unangenehm
3. Händel had a botched cataract operation which messed up his sight for the rest of his life! This "doctor" then continued to blaze a trail of botched operations across Europe, as he was also responsible for Johann Sebastian Bach's botched cataract operation.
4. Händel once held the position of Kapellmeister in Hannover. He only kept this job for two years. He just wanted to go to London. So he did. He even became a British citizen.
5. When he died, he left behind millions (depending on how you calculate it) in Wertpapiere, bonds or shares. Calculations span between two and six million pounds in today's money (source). No matter which way you calculate it, that's a lot of dough.