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BAROQUE - Handel's Zadok the Priest

George Frideric Handel
Born: 1685      

Died: 1759
Nationality: German born British

* He was born in Germany but moved to England when he was 27.
* He was a great composer of the Late Baroque Period.
* He performed and composed music for the Royal Family.

 Handel was a great composer from the late Baroque period.
He was born in Germany on 23 February 1685. Even as a small boy he had a great love for music and was very musical. However, his father wanted him to be a lawyer so he used to practice it in the attic where his father could not hear him. 
In 1703 he travelled to Italy and met a very famous composer there called Corelli. Handel realised that Corelli's music was fashionable and so he copied his style and started to get noticed but he still wasn't making enough money to survive. Handel then spotted an opportunity in England. There were very few composers here and the public loved the 'Italian' style of music that he had learnt from Corelli. So he moved to London and became the centre of the musical scene. Within a few years he was churning out popular operas, writing for royalty and earning a lot of money. He had cleverly filled a musical gap and is now often thought of as one of the first great English composers despite actually being from Germany!

Zadok the Priest

Handel was well known to the royal family, and when King George I died in 1727, Handel was asked to write a piece of music for the coronation of the next King, George II. He wrote Zadok the Priest. Zadok the Priest has been performed at every coronation since, including that of our current queen.

This music is written for a chamber orchestra, often used in music of the Baroque era, as well as a large choir. The words are taken from the King James Bible.

The piece is majestic and the orchestral introduction builds and builds before the choir bursts into song. Handel wrote this piece hoping that the sound would fill the huge space of Westminster Abbey. If you're a football fan you might recognise this music as a version of it is used as the theme of the UEFA Champions League.

Listen out for: The powerful words and phrases the singers use like "Rejoice!" and "God Save the King!"

See footage of Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation where Zadok the Priest was performed:

Listen to more music by Handel:

Trinidadian soprano Jeanine De Bique joins Chineke! to perform 'Rejoice greatly' from Messiah by Handel.

Music for the Royal Fireworks at the BBC Proms 2012:


The Baroque Period Roughly 1600 – 1750
Handel composed music during the Baroque Period of Western Musical History. Music from the Baroque Period tends to be tuneful and very organized and melodies tend to be highly decorated and elaborate.
Other famous composers from the Baroque period include: Bach and Vivaldi.

Find out more about the Baroque period by listening to :

Those of you in UKS2 might like to watch this video: