George Frideric Handel Lesson Plan

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

Educate your students about composer George Frideric Handel with this lesson plan. They will study a helpful text lesson, take an accompanying quiz to follow-up, and finally participate in three hands-on activities to reinforce main concepts.

Learning Objectives

After studying this lesson your students will be able to:

  • Detail some of Handel's personal life and the struggles he overcame
  • List some of his most famous works and when he wrote them
  • Explain what an oratorio is as opposed to an operatic performance


1.5 - 2 Hours


  • Colored Markers
  • Copies of the text lesson George Frideric Handel: Biography, Facts & Compositions along with the accompanying lesson quiz, one per student.
  • Image of George Frideric Handel
  • Internet access
  • A copy of Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks (approximately 22 minutes long)
  • Poster Board
  • Two separate, preprinted worksheets of 21 dates and 21 events in Handel's life

Key Vocabulary

  • Cantatas
  • Enlightenment
  • Fireworks
  • Halle, Germany
  • London, England
  • Opera
  • Oratorio
  • Sonatas

Curriculum Standards


Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.


Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.



  • Inform your students they will be studying classical composer George Frideric Handel.
  • Display an image of Handel.
  • Ask the students if anyone is familiar with Handel or his works.
  • Review vocabulary terms
  • Hand out copies of the text lesson George Frideric Handel:Biography, Facts & Compositions.


Read the following sections and ask the subsequent questions:

Introduction and Persistence

  • What year was Handel born?
  • Of which 18th century period was Handel a part?
  • What did this period entail?

Rising Career

  • In what city was Handel born and schooled?
  • To what large city, in which he had gained popularity, did he travel?
  • Which piece did King George love and have played three times?


  • What happened with his first opera employment?
  • What happened with his second opera employment?
  • What happened with his third opera employment and to his health?
  • Did his health eventually return?

What Is an Oratorio?

  • How do an opera and an oratorio differ?
  • With which one did Handel have greater success?

Late career

  • What happened at the fireworks display?
  • What happened to his eyesight?
  • Did he continue to play music?

Lesson Summary

  • Review the text lesson and answer any specific questions.
  • Have the students take the lesson quiz to demonstrate understanding.

Activity One

  • Let your students know they will be participating in a ''Matching Game'' type of activity.
  • Divide your students up into pairs. In each pair, one person will be Student A and one person will be Student B. Have the following 21 dates and 21 events in Handel's life written on two separate preprinted worksheets in advance, in mixed order:

Date: Student A Event: Student B
1685 Handel was born.
1706 Handel went to compose in Italy.
1710 Handel returned to his native Germany, but went back to London.
1712 Handel went to London for a second time.
1714 Queen Anne died.
1717 King George hosted Water Music celebration.
1719 Handel was appointed musical director at Royal Academy of Music.
1727 George I died.
1728 Royal Academy of Music went bankrupt.
1733 Handel wrote Athalia and Deborah.
1734 Handel left King's Theater.
1737 Handel had physical breakdown and temporary paralysis.
1739 Handel wrote two successful oratorios.
1740 Handel wrote two failed operas.
1741 Handel wrote the famous Messiah.
1742 Messiah debuted.
1746 Handel wrote Judas Maccabeus.
1748 Peace Treaty signed (War of the Austrian Succession) and fireworks disaster.
1751 Handel lost sight in one eye.
1753 Handel lost sight in both eyes.
1759 Handel died.
  • Hand out the worksheet with the dates to each Student A, and the worksheet with the events to each Student B.
  • Now have the students use the text lesson or the Internet to match up the correct dates and events.
  • After the students are finished, review Handel's entire timeline in order from his birth to his death.
    • Ask students: Do you have any further questions or comments on this exercise?

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