Sunday, July 21, 2013

Handel Who Knew What He Liked by M.T.Anderson & Kevin Hawkes

Not the type of book I would usually pick up but I am glad I did, as the book gives a basic but entertaining account of Handel's childhood and the highs and lows of his career. The humour contained in the illustrations by Kevin Hawkes, was also one of the strong points of this book. Look at the portrait painting in the illustration below as Handel discreetly has his new clavichord moved up to his bedroom; his father was dead against him having a career in music. There is an glossary inbuilt into the pages with information boxes popping up under the main story to explain terminology such as clavichord, libretto, aria, as well as small explanations about the social norms of the times. That certainly eliminates the  annoying necessity of most information=driven books of having to flip to the back of the book every time there is an italicized word! One of my favourite descriptions  in the book was within the section about the big and expensive operas Handel put on: "The characters would sing arias in Italian, some of the most beautiful music ever heard onstage. Then they would stab each other." This book is written with wit and compassion and certainly gave me a thought-provoking glimpse into both Handel's life and also into the  cutthroat practices involved in the business of public performances in the 1700s.

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