The Magnificent Mr. Handel!
Here's the musical question of the day: Which of the great classical composers has remained continuously popular for longer than any other? The answer would have to be the immortal George Frideric Handel, born in the Saxon city of Halle on the 23rd of February, 1685. Lionized in his day, Handel never went out of fashion, unlike his exact contemporary Johann Sebastian Bach. One cannot speak of a "Handel revival" as one can with Bach, nor can we credit his current exalted status to the 20th Baroque revival as we can, say, that of Vivaldi and Telemann. It should be noted, for instance, that the venerable Boston musical institution founded in 1815 named itself "The Handel and Haydn Society", reflecting those two composers' immense popular appeal, as well as their contributions to the English oratorio (e.g., Handel's Messiah, Haydn's Creation), the favored genre of every respectable music lover.
If anything, Handel's works, especially his operas, get more performances now than at any time since he was around to put his works on himself. Once upon a time, not too long a ago, a New York City Opera revival of Julius Caesar could be a welcome rarity. Now, the Met, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Santa Fe Opera — you name the opera company, it does Handel. As well it should, considering his opera's drama, sharp characterizations and overflowing abundance of great melody.
So tune in to WFCR's classical music today, when we'll begin (9:00 hour) and end (3:00 hour) the festivities with the pomp, the pageantry, the Queen of Sheba, the fireworks, the whistling blacksmith, the barge trip on the Thames and a "Hallelujah!" that will have you leaping to your feet. Happy Birthday, Mr. Handel, and many, many happy returns of the day!
(Announcer's note: Handel's name is never, ever, to rhyme with "fondle". The original German version of his name, Händel, sounds more-or-less like "Hendel". So, saying his name like "handle" is correct.)