Music Appreciation: George Frideric Handel and the Shaping of English Music

Ref: C3739735

The composer of Messiah and Water Music seems hardly to need introduction, and yet Handel’s reputation all too often rests on a small number of works. This study day situates such pieces within the context of Handel’s wider output and explores his singular contribution not only to barque music but to English music as a whole. We will also consider Handel’s legacy in England and beyond, including Beethoven’s study of the baroque master in his final years.

Additional information about this course

*Reading courses bookable from 1st July 2016* This course is not supported by the Skills Funding Agency and does not have a fee waiver. However, for Reading Branch courses students on an Income Related Benefit will be eligible for a 50% fee reduction only. PLEASE PHONE to enrol if you are on an Income Related Benefit as you cannot enrol online via the WEA website.

Course aim

The course will introduce key works by Handel and consider their impact in defining English musical culture both during his lifetime and beyond.

Who is the course for?

The course is for anyone who has a love of baroque music and the musical culture of England. The ability to read music is not required.

What topics will this course cover

The course will cover the following topics: 1. The arrival of Handel in England and his early successes in London. 2. Defining English Opera - an exploration of how and if Handel's great run of 'Academy' operas defined opera in England in this period. 3. Turning to the Vernacular: the Oratorios - an examination of Handel's successes in the field of the oratorio 4. The 'Handel Legacy' - The impact on Handel on composers after him and an examination of how Handel's work helped to shape English music into the nineteenth century.

What will it be like?

WEA classes are friendly and supportive. You will be encouraged to work together with your fellow students and tutor. You will be asked to share your ideas and views in the class and work with the group to give and accept feedback in a supportive environment. The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you to be actively involved in your learning. You may be asked to undertake work to support your course outside of your class.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

1) Outline the key contributions of Handel to the genres of opera and oratorio. 2) Be able to give examples of how Handel's music impacted the music of some later composers. 3) Consider Handel's work within the context of English music in the baroque and into the nineteenth century.

How will I know I'm making progress?

The study day will not include formal assessment.

What else do I need to know, do or bring?

No specialist knowledge or materials are required.

Reading and information sources

No preparatory reading is required. A basic familiarity with some of Handel's key works may be helpful, but is not essential.

What could the course lead to?

The course can act as a platform for the further exploration of: 1) the music of Handel 2) Baroque opera in England 3) the oratorio 4) the continuing significance of Handel after his death.

Download full course outline

Music Appreciation: George Frideric Handel and the Shaping of English Music Course Outline


You can if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2016
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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