George Frideric Handel (German: Georg Friedrich Händel; pronounced ) (23 February 1685 – 14 April 1759) was a German-British Baroque composer, famous for his operas, oratorios, and concertos. Handel was born in Germany in the same year as Johann Sebastian Bach and Domenico Scarlatti. He received critical musical training in Italy before settling in London and becoming a naturalised British subject. His works include Messiah, Water Music, and Music for the Royal Fireworks. He was strongly influenced by the great composers of the Italian Baroque and the middle-German polyphonic choral tradition. Handel's music was well-known to such later composers as Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven.
Handel was born in Halle to Georg and Dorothea (née Taust) Händel in 1685,. His father, Georg Händel, 63 when his son was born, was an eminent barber-surgeon who served as surgeon to the court of Saxe-Weissenfels and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. According to Handel's first biographer, John Mainwaring, he "had discovered such a strong propensity to Music, that his father who always intended him for the study of the Civil Law, had reason to be alarmed. He strictly forbade him to meddle with any musical instrument but Handel found means to get a little clavichord privately convey'd to a room at the top of the house. To this room he constantly stole when the family was asleep". At an early age Handel became a skillful performer on the harpsichord and pipe organ.
Handel and his father traveled to Weissenfels to visit either Handel's half-brother, Carl, or nephew, Georg Christian, who was serving as valet to Duke Johann Adolf I. According to legend, the young Handel's playing on the church organ attracted the Duke's attention. Handel convinced his father to allow lessons in musical composition and keyboard technique from Friedrich Wilhelm Zachow, the organist of the Lutheran Marienkirche. Handel learned about harmony and contemporary styles, analysed sheet music scores, learned to work fugue subjects, and to copy music. Sometimes he replaced his teacher as organist. In 1698 Handel played for Frederick I of Prussia and met Giovanni Battista Bononcini in Berlin. In 1701 Georg Philipp Telemann went to Halle to listen to the important young man.