one another mutually. Handel had already an exceptional power on the organ, and in fugue and counterpoint; above all, in improvisation. He shared his knowledge with Mattheson, who in return helped him to perfect his melodic style. Mattheson believed him to be a very feeble melodist. He wrote his melodies at that time, "Oh, long, long, long" (sehr lange lange Arien), and cantatas without end, which had neither ability nor good taste, but perfect harmony. It is very remarkable that melody was not a natural gift with Handel, for he now appears to us as a melodic genius. It is not necessary to believe that the simple, beautiful melodies rushed forth without effort from his brain. The melodies of Beethoven, which seem the most spontaneous, cost him years of thoughtful work during which he brooded continually over them, and so Handel also only came to his full power of melodic expression after years of severe discipline, where he learnt as an apprentice-sculptor to model beautiful forms, and to leave them neither complex nor unfinished.
Handel and Mattheson spent several months in intimate friendship. Handel joined Mattheson at table for meals, and in July and August, 1703, they made a journey together to Lubeck to hear the
- Ehrenpforte.—Telemann, a co-disciple of Handel, says also that both Handel and he worked continually at melody.
- With a kind of protective touch, however, on the part of Mattheson. During the first months Handel would never have dreamt of offending him. The style of his letters to Mattheson in March, 1704, was extremely respectful. In fact Mattheson was then in advance of him, and his superior in social position.