The Tabernacle Choir Blog

As A Boy, Handel Was So Determined To Play Music That He Would Sneak Instruments Into His House Without His Family Knowing

Updated March 9, 2016

George Frideric Handel was born on a cold February day in 1685, deep in the heart of Germany. His father was a prominent and successful barber-surgeon for the local Duke and wanted his children to have a proper upbringing.

Young George Handel was drawn to things more artistic, more musical. He was intrigued by instruments, the sounds they could make and the feelings they could create. However, his father intervened and forbade him from taking part in any of that musical nonsense. After all, years earlier, the elder Handel decided that his son would study civil law.

That wasn’t about to stop the determined little youngster. By some unknown means he was able to get a small clavichord. By even more unknown means, he was able to smuggle said clavichord to a small room at the top of the house. Then, at night, while the rest of the family was asleep, little George would silently creep up to the room and play music, ever so quietly, late into the night.

It was there, in a small dark room, late into the night, note after note, Handel discovered the magic of music.

The surprise came after church one day when the eight-year-old climbed up on the organ bench and began to play the postlude. Everyone was shocked, especially his father, who had no idea his son was so gifted. Father sternly reminded son that his destiny was far more practical than music.

Eventually, Handel enrolled in law school just as his father had wished. But the musical pull was too much. Soon, he left the confines of the classroom and headed out on the road. He traveled from city to city, learning what he could about each area’s musical styles and gifts before he finally settling in London, where he would begin to make his mark on music.