George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)
Program note written by Jacob Farmer
IV. Bourrée Anglaise
Approximate Performance Time:
Intermediate Advanced – appropriate for advanced high school students and college undergraduates
Baker, Julius; Marlowe, Sylvia. HANDEL, G.F.: Flute Sonatas, Op. 1, Nos. 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11. Handel, George Frideric, 1947. Naxos Classical Archives. CD.
GOULD, ALBERT OREN. “THE FLUTE SONATAS OF GEORG FRIEDRICH HANDEL: A STYLISTIC ANALYSIS AND HISTORICAL STUDY.” Order No. 6200607 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1961. Ann Arbor: ProQuest. Web. 1 Oct. 2016.
George Frideric Handel, born in Halle, Germany in 1685, was a student at the University of Halle prior to locating to Hamburg in 1703 as the violinist, harpsichordist, and composer for the opera orchestra. He spent time in Italy developing his Italian musical style, then served as Kapellmeister to the future King of England (George I). While in London, he wrote his first Italian opera, Rinaldo. Handel’s literature is extensive, including operas, church music, secular vocal and choral music, orchestra music, chamber music, keyboard music, and oratorios, with the most famous oratorio being the Messiah. He is credited for creating the English oratorio, which combined musical elements of Italian operas with church-pleasing texts and choral arrangements. Handel composed many sonatas for violin, recorder, and the oboe and many of his flute sonatas are arrangements from this preexisting repertoire.
His Sonata in G Major for Transverse Flute is an example of one of these arrangements. The piece was originally written as an oboe sonata in F major. This Sonata contains five movements: Adagio, Allegro, Adagio, Bourrée Anglaise, and Minuetto. Handel combines two styles of baroque sonatas: Sonata da Chiesa and Sonata de Camera. The first three movements follow the pre-1700 Sonata da Chiesa and the last two follow the new evolving style Sonata de Camera influence. Handel’s style of writing has brighter allegros and calmer adagios compared to J.S. Bach, along with merge of the French style dances of the Bourrée and the Minuetto. One of the most significant aspects of this piece is the performer’s use of ornamentation. Handel leaves that portion of creativity open, providing a little more than a skeleton for the musician to work with.