Handel's binge eating and blindness explored

Tue Apr 7, 2009 5:29pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - George Frideric Handel is best remembered for his beautiful music.

But ahead of the 250th anniversary of the composer's death, an exhibition on the creator of "Messiah" looks at the man behind the music, including his bank details, blindness and binge-eating.

"I thought in this anniversary year 'celebrating' his death it would be nice to ask questions like 'what did he die of?', 'how did he live?', 'what about his love life?'," said Christopher Hogwood, curator of "Handel Reveal'd."

The show at the London home where Handel lived for 36 years, composed some of his most famous music and died aged 74 in 1759, runs from April 8 to October 25.

"Handel was terribly private and clearly thought that the public had no right to know what happened in his house once he had closed the door," Hogwood told Reuters.

"When you try to piece together the facts of his life it is sort of opposite to Mozart, who was a very open figure. There are terrible gaps (in our knowledge) and periods when we don't even know where Handel was."

Handel's secrecy is apparent throughout the show at the Handel House Museum which also contains a permanent exhibition.

Little is known of his love life, for example, except that he never married. The exhibition only speculates that he never had a lasting personal relationship and also addresses the possibility that the German-born composer was gay.   Continued...