Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato sings Handel's "Lascia ch'io pianga" ("Let Me Weep") from the opera "Rinaldo," accompanied by Il Pomo d’Oro.
Heads up, Handel fans. My next music appreciation class, Nov. 3, dives into the grand and gorgeous music of George Frideric Handel. We will take an imaginary royal outing up the River Thames, accompanied by his "Water Music," we'll thrill to his "Fireworks" music -- but without a pavilion catching fire! -- and we will hear the most intimate arias about love and pain.
We can’t discuss Handel without mentioning Bach. Both were German Baroque composers, born five weeks apart not 200 kilometers away. Both studied and copied other composers, both used Italian and French styles, both went blind at the end of their lives and both stand as two of the greatest composers in history.
But their differences are significant: Bach came from musical family, Handel’s father was a surgeon and intended his son to be a lawyer. They both had something to prove. Bach never set foot outside of Germany, Handel traveled widely to Italy and England. Bach was a man of the church, inward-turning and studious. Handel was a man of the world, entertaining kings and queens, bold and outgoing in nature. Bach wrote for whatever performers he could scrape together. Handel wrote for the best singers of the day.
After his death, Bach’s grave was all but forgotten and his music neglected for 75 years, whereas Handel was buried with state honors among the English pantheon in Westminster Abbey. His music has never gone out of style. Bach wrote learned counterpoint, Handel used simpler expression, meant for immediate effect. He was more of an entertainer with a gift for clear sonorities and gorgeous melodies. Between them, they helped define Baroque music.
I hope you can join us!
3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 3, Classic Pianos, 3003 SE Milwaukie and Powell, next to the Aladdin Theater in southeast Portland. $20 at the door. davidstabler.net.
A 2014 Waterfront concert with the Oregon Symphony. Photo by Randy Kashka.
David Stabler is a teacher, writer, dad and cyclist. He's working on a novel based on his childhood years living in Africa and rode across America with his brother in 2017.