Essay about Handel and Bach Comparisons

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Jacob Zeller Professor Davidson History of Music 114:01 15 November 2012 Bach v. Handel When thinking of composers, whose works changed the world of music forever, many names may come to mind. Among those on that list, both Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frideric Handel are figures whose effect on music has been felt worldwide. Born in the same year, these composers have much in common and many differences that illustrate their importance to their era and music as we see it today. Their individualism and creativity influenced much of their time and together, their works defined the Baroque Period as we know it today. Johann Sebastian Bach, born in the year 1685, was a German born composer, virtuoso organist and keyboard player, a…show more content…
His career includes 42 operas, 29 oratorios, 16 organ concerti, over 120 cantatas, trios and duets, chamber music, odes, and many ecumenical pieces, his most famous work being the Oratorio “Messiah.” Composed in 1741, the oratorio was preformed first in Dublin in 1742. It had a scriptural text from the King James Bible and was written for modest vocal and instrumental forces. The work, although very much in the style of Handel, is a series of thoughts on the Christian idea of redemption and utilizes a mixture of traditions. After Handel’s death in 1759, the Oratorio began to gain popularity even further and was adapted to larger scale choirs and orchestras. Handel has very much influenced the world of music, especially through his operas, and has grown in popularity throughout the years. As the inventor of English Oratorios and being so well known for his Italian operas his style and influence is felt around the world even still in the music of today. So where are the similarities between these two composers? Both being German and born in the same year, both excelled at organ and studied the music of German and Italian composers. Being masters at counterpoint, both exhibited similarities in their skills and styles. Aside from Bach’s absence from opera, both composers had remarkable influence on nearly every contemporary genre. They both made huge impressions on keyboard pieces, being exceptionally skilled at organ.
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