Handel, George Frederick

In 1712 he again obtained leave of absence, " on condition that he engaged to return within a reasonable time." Only as a visitor did he return to his fatherland again. He found favor with Queen Anne by an ode for her birthday in 1713. She commissioned him to furnish a Te Deum to commemorate the Peace of Utrecht. This work made a great impression and  he was rewarded for it by a life pension of two hundred pounds. The next year brought the sudden death of Queen Anne and made the Elector of Hanover King of England as George I. Naturally, he did not feel very cordial toward his renegade musician. Handel, however, regained his favor by strategy: On the evening of August 22, 1715, as the royal family descended the Thames from Limehouse to Whitehall, a barge followed them which contained an orchestra of strings and wind-instruments playing the famous water music, composed for the occasion. The King was delighted, and when he learned who the composer was, received him with good grace. Now followed a life of ease and happiness among his friends, the distinguished amateur, M. Andrews, and the Earl of Burlington, as whose guest he met all the men of note at that time. About this time Handel returned with the King to Hanover for a visit and he also went to Halle to see his mother. While in Hanover he composed his one German oratorio, The Passion, set to Brockes' words. Upon his return to London he spent three years as chapelmaster to the Duke of Chandos and composed the twelve Chandos Anthems. He also wrote two Te Deums, his English serenata, Acis and Galatea, and his first English oratorio, Esther. In 1720 he went to Dresden looking for singers, by the King's orders, for the Royal Academy of Music, for which he had been appointed director. In Dresden he played at court, before Augustus, Elector of Saxony, receiving one hundred ducats for the performance. He just missed seeing Bach, who arrived in Halle just after his departure.

Handel was associated with Ariosti and with his former rival Buononcini as composers for the Royal Academy, but his fourteen operas in eight years drove the Italians from the field. In December his Italian opera opened with Lotario and during the next four years he furnished six operas. Handel's favor at court created much political opposition which hurt this second operatic enterprise. He made a third and last attempt at opera, leasing Covent Garden, but this venture also proved unsuccessful and in 1738 he closed the theatre, broken financially and ailing in health. A stroke of paralysis lamed one of his hands and indications of insanity appeared. He repaired to Aix-laChapelle, where the baths, in a few months, restored him to partially good health. Returning he composed, between November 15 and December 25, the opera, Faramondo, and the funeral anthem for the death of Queen Caroline.

In the meantime, Heidegger had formed an opera company and for the sake of money, with the debtor's prison staring at him, Handel wrote six more operas, of which Deidamia was the last. He also reluctantly agreed to a benefit concert though he had always disapproved of that sort of begging. It was a great success. The house was crowded, with five hundred people of distinction upon the stage, and the receipts netted about eight hundred pounds. This was a demonstration but was eclipsed when, a month later, a life-size statue of him by Roubilliac was erected at Vauxhall Gardens, the only instance on record of such an honor being paid an artist during his lifetime. For the Society for Indigent Musicians he performed, in 1739, his Alexander's Feast, in 1740, Acis and Galatea, and the next year a series of minor compositions. His oratorio, Esther, had been produced by Bernard Gates, the director of the boys' chorus at the Royal chapel, and Handel performed it himself later. Under this new impulse he composed Deborah and Athaliah. The first performance of the former at the Haymarket was given to an empty house, but it was better appreciated when given later. The latter was given at Oxford University Festival and the title of Doctor was conferred upon Handel. It was with great reluctance that he gave up writing operas. He said that "sacred music was best suited to a man descending in the vale of years."