Ellen T. Harris
George Frideric Handel: A Life with Friends
W W Norton & Co., 2014
During his lifetime, the sounds of Handel’s music reached from court to theater, echoed in cathedrals, and filled crowded taverns. But the man himself—known to most as the composer of Messiah—is a bit of a mystery. Though he took meticulous care of his musical manuscripts and provided for their preservation in his will, very little of an intimate nature survives.
In search of the private man behind the public persona, Ellen T. Harris has tracked down the letters, diaries, financial accounts, court cases, and other documents connected with the composer’s closest friends. The result is a tightly woven tapestry of London life in the first half of the eighteenth century, one that weaves together vibrant descriptions of Handel’s music with stories of loyalty, cunning, and betrayal. With this wholly new approach, Harris introduces us to an ambitious, shrewd, generous, brilliant, and flawed man.
Ellen Harris is Class of 1949 Professor Emeritus in the Music and Theater Arts Section.