George Frideric Handel was born in Halle, Germany on February 23, 1685. As a youth, he became an accomplished harpsichordist and organist, studied violin and oboe, and mastered composing for the organ, the oboe, and the violin by the time he was 10 years old. In 1704, he made his debut as an opera composer with Almira. During his stay in Italy from 1706 to 1710, he composed several operas including Rodrigo and Agrippina and several dramatic chamber works, which helped establish his early success. In London, Handel composed Rinaldo, which was released during the 1710-1711 London opera season and became his breakthrough work. After Handel released Rinaldo, he spent the next few years writing and performing for English royalty, including Queen Anne and King George I. In 1719, he accepted the position of Master of the Orchestra at the Royal Academy of Music, the first Italian opera company in London. He became a naturalized British citizen in 1726. He eventually formed his own company, calling it the New Royal Academy of Music in 1727. When Italian opera fell out of style in London, he started creating oratorios Handel's musical output was prodigious. He wrote 46 operas including Julius Caesar and Berenice; 33 oratorios including The Messiah; 100 Italian solo cantatas; and numerous orchestral works. In 1751 Handel suffered a sight impairment that led to total blindness by 1753. Nonetheless, he continued to conduct performances of his works. He died April 14, 1759 at the age of 74.
George Frideric Handel - Messiah - Hwv56 - A Full Vocal Score