Page:Romain Rolland Handel.djvu/54

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46
GEORGE FREDERICK HANDEL

French influence fought for the honours of this city. Handel, as indifferent as Scarlatti to the victory of either of these parties, tried to write in the style of both.[1] He interested himself also in the Italian popular songs and noted down the rustic melodies of the Calabrian Pifferari.[2] For the Arcadians of Naples he wrote his beautiful serenata, Acis and Galatea.[3] Finally he had the good fortune to please the Viceroy of Naples—the Cardinal Grimani. He was a Venetian and his family owned the theatre of San Grisostomo at Venice. Grimani wrote for Handel the libretto of the opera Agrippina, of which Handel probably composed part of the music at Naples. A similar collaboration assured it of being produced at Venice without trouble.

He left Naples in the springtime, and returned to Rome, where he met, at the Palace of the Cardinal Ottoboni, Bishop Agostino Steffani, who by a curious combination of attributes was at the same time Kapellmeister at the Court of Hanover, and charged with secret missions by different German

  1. One of his cantatas is preserved, Cantata spagnola a voce sola a chitarra (Spanish Cantata for solo voice and guitar, published in the second volume of Italian cantatas Con stromenti), and seven French songs in the style of Lully, with accompaniment of Figured Bass for the clavier. One copy of these songs is found in the Conservatoire Library, Paris (Fonds Schoelcher).
  2. One of them forms the inspiration for the Pastoral Symphony of The Messiah. Handel also acquired in Italy his taste for the Siciliano, which became the rage in Naples, and which he used, after Agrippina, in nearly all his operas, and even in his oratorios.
  3. The Acis and Galatea of 1708 has no relation to the one of 1720, but in taking up the later work in 1732 Handel made a rearrangement of his Italian serenade, and gave it in London, mingling with it the English airs of his other Acis.