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WRTI 90.1's Essential Classical Composer No. 10: George Frideric Handel

George Frideric Handel by Balthasar Denner
George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)

The composer of Messiah will never be forgotten. But there is so much more to Handel that you voted him our 10th most essential classical composer.  Please support WRTI 90.1 during our 10-day Essential Winter Quiet Drive and Classical Countdown. Give here.

Some facts you may not have known about Handel:

  • He wrote Messiah for a benefit concert for a Dublin debtor’s prison. The proceeds from the first performance freed 142 men.
  • He composed Messiah from August 22nd, to September 14th, 1741: 24 days. The original score is 259 pages. A complete performance lasts about three hours.
  • Just before Messiah, Handel was almost bankrupt. Two years later he was almost bankrupt again.
  • Handel is honored as a Saint in the Episcopal, Lutheran, and Methodist churches.
  • He wanted, above all else, to be an opera composer.


Susan Lewis takes us into a Christmas tradition that was born in the springtime: Handel’s Messiah.