Handel vs. Bach

by whartje

Below is the link to a video I found interesting and quite relevant to our last lecture (9/26)


Coincidence? Did Bach copy from Handel? Some critics argue that the theme of the “falling diminished 7th interval” exhibited in both clips was prevalent in other works by composers in the Baroque period. Remembering that even during the Baroque era, music was still somewhat local since the ease of transportation that we have today was not as advanced in that time. As we learned in class, Handel was more popular while both composers were alive, however Bach’s music had a resurgence later in the 18th century. Handel’s works were easier to perform in general, aiding in its instant popularity during its time. It can be assumed that Bach was a fan of Handel, as evident by his unsuccessful twenty mile journey from Köthen to Halle to meet Handel. Also, Bach’s son attempted to coordinate a meeting between Handel and Bach’s families in later years but that also failed to come to fruition.

Personally, what I think is interesting to ponder is who was more influential on later composers like Beethoven and Mozart and music thereafter. Handel was best known for his melodies, heavy reliance on vocals, Italian influence, juxtaposition of contrasting textures, timed use of dynamics, etc.  Bach, on the other hand, is known best for his counterpoint usage, German and Latin style, heavy reliance on instruments, phrasing, complex technical pieces, etc.

What are your thoughts? The question of who is more influential should become clearer over the course of the semester as we dive into later composers’ works. Also, if Bach’s works were discovered earlier, would Bach have had more influence on works that followed?