Page:Romain Rolland Handel.djvu/62

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54
GEORGE FREDERICK HANDEL

same time Pope Innocent II made him in 1706 Bishop of Spiga.[1] The Elector Palatine created him his Grand Almoner and gave him charge of the Italian and Latin correspondence with the Duke of Brunswick. From November, 1708, to April, 1709, Steffani stayed at Rome, where the Pope crowded honours on him, making him Prelate of the Chamber, Assistant to the Throne, Abbé of St. Steffano in Carrara, and Apostolic Vicar of the north of Germany, with the supervision of the Catholics in Palatine, Brunswick, and Brandenburg.[2] Then it was, as we have seen, that he met Handel. It is necessary to sketch briefly the life of this extraordinary personage, who was at the same time Abbé, Bishop, Apostolic Vicar, intimate Councillor and Ambassador of Princes, organist, Kapellmeister, musical critic,[3] chief singer,[4] and yet composer—not only

  1. Bishop in partibus. Spiga was a district in the Spanish West Indies.
  2. He ended by abdicating his post as Vicar, which cost him more annoyance than pleasure. He travelled afresh in Italy in 1722. In 1724 he was nominated President for life of the Academy of Ancient Music, founded in London by his pupil, Galliard. He dedicated to the Academy several of his compositions, but since he was made Bishop he no longer signed them; they appeared under the name of his secretary, Lagorio Piva. He returned to Hanover in 1725, after having lived on a grander scale than his revenues sufficed to maintain. He became embarrassed, and had to sell his beautiful collection of pictures and statuary, among which were found, it is said, some of Michael Angelo's. The English king settled some of his debts. Steffani died of apoplexy in the middle of a journey to Frankfort on February 12, 1728.
  3. A little work by him in the form of a letter is known. It is entitled Quanta certezza habbia de suoi Principii la Musica et in qual pregio fosse perciò presso gli Antichi, and was published in 1695 at Amsterdam. Again in 1700 in German. He therefore advanced the value of music not only as an art, but also as a science.
  4. His singing was celebrated. If his voice was feeble, the purity and finish of his style, his delicate and chaste expression, were incomparable, if we are to believe Handel.