Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Handel: Who Knew What he Liked

Handel: Who Knew What he Liked

M.T. Anderson
Illustrator:   Kevin Hawkes 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 8 to 12
Candlewick Press, 2001   ISBN: 0763625620

Handel was not the kind of boy to give up easily; he "knew what he liked" and would pursue his dream until he got what he wanted. When his father refused to allow him to learn how to play the clavichord, Handel somehow managed to sneak one up into the attic and there he taught himself how to play in instrument in secret. He became so good at playing that when he was heard playing an organ one day, the grand duke who owned the organ decided that he would sponsor Handle's musical education. Once again Handel's father's wishes were thwarted.

Handel developed a deep and abiding love for opera and went on many travels to expand his education and experience writing this kind of music. He became very popular and was able to play for many famous and powerful people including the English royal family. For the king Handel wrote several very special and now very famous pieces of music including "Water Music" and "Music for the Royal Fireworks."

All was not easy for Handel however. There were temperamental opera singers to deal with, fans who did not care for opera music at all, and a rival company to contend with. In fact the seemingly indomitable Handel finally began to feel more than just a little discouraged and he decided to return to Germany. Before he was due to leave he wrote a piece of music to raise funds for children's orphanages. The "Messiah" was a work that he wrote from the heart and it became a known the world over. Writing the "Messiah" taught Handel how he could create a new kind of music that reflected what he liked and it was also a kind of music that his public loved. Handel never looked back after that and he did not return to Germany with his tail between his legs either.

With wry humour and a definite appreciation for the comical side of life, the author tells Handel's story. He also captures the pathos of Handel's story and the true love of music that lay in Handel's heart. Kevin Hawkes' vibrant paintings beautifully portray Handel and his world.