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The Story of Great Music

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  1. Introduction

    What You Need to Begin
    5 Steps
  2. The Renaissance and Baroque Eras
    1. Renaissance
    8 Steps
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    1 Quiz
  3. 2. Early Baroque
    11 Steps
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    1 Quiz
  4. 3. Handel
    10 Steps
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    1 Quiz
  5. 4. Bach
    13 Steps
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    1 Quiz
  6. The Classical Era
    5. Haydn
    8 Steps
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    1 Quiz
  7. 6. Mozart
    9 Steps
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    1 Quiz
  8. 7. Beethoven
    8 Steps
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    1 Quiz
  9. The Romantic Era
    8. Early German Romantics
    8 Steps
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    1 Quiz
  10. 9. French Romantics
    8 Steps
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    1 Quiz
  11. 10. Masters of the Piano
    8 Steps
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    1 Quiz
  12. 11. Romantic Opera
    9 Steps
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    1 Quiz
  13. 12. Brahms
    8 Steps
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    1 Quiz
  14. 13. Romantic Nationalism
    10 Steps
  15. 14. Russian Romantics
    9 Steps
  16. The 20th Century
    15. French Impressionism
    6 Steps
  17. 16. Finland, England, & America
    5 Steps
Lesson Progress
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by Charles Burney (1726-1814), English music historian and friend of Handel

The figure of Handel was large, and he was somewhat corpulent and unwieldy in his motions; but his countenance was full of fire and dignity such as impressed ideas of superiority and genius. He was impetuous, rough, and peremptory in his manners and conversation, but totally devoid of ill-nature or malevolence; indeed, there was an original humor and pleasantry in his most lively sallies of anger or impatience which, with his broken English, were extremely risible.

His natural propensity to wit and humor and happy manner of relating common occurrences in an uncommon way enabled him to throw persons and things into very ridiculous attitudes. Had he been as great a master of the English language as Swift, his ‘good words’ would have been as frequent and somewhat of the same kind.

Handel wore an enormous white wig, and when things went well at the oratorio, it had a certain nod or vibration which manifested his pleasure and satisfaction. Without it, nice observers were certain that he was out of humor.

Handel was in the habit of talking to himself so loud that it was easy for persons not very near to him to hear the subject of his soliloquies.

Handel’s general look was somewhat heavy and sour, but when he did smile it was like the sun bursting out of a black cloud. There was a sudden flash of intelligence, wit, and good humor beaming in his countenance which I hardly ever saw in any other.