George Friedrich Handel
Georg Friedrich Handel was born on February 23, 1685 in Halle-in-Saxony, a Prussian town famous for its university and prosperous due to its salt springs. His father, also named Georg, was a barber-surgeon, a career combination that was not unusual in those days, and his mother Dorothea, Georg's second wife, was the daughter of a Lutheran pastor. He had two sisters.
The senior Handel was sufficiently skilled as to be appointed barber-surgeon to the court of Saxe-Weissenfels, where apparently his employer the Duke heard young Georg doodling on the court organ one day in 1693 and urged Handel to steer the boy in the direction of a musical career. Georg was certainly a precocious musical talent, having by the age of six mastered the family clavichord. Handel wanted his son to study law but accommodated the Duke's desire and had Georg tutored by Friedrich Wilhelm Zachau, who taught harpsichord, oboe, organ and violin, and who introduced his pupil to a spectrum of French, Italian and German scores. Young Handel flourished. By age 10, he had composed several sonatas for oboe and bassoon, as well as performed for the Prussian court in Berlin.
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