|Directions: Your teacher may ask
you to write your own version of this story, in class, in as much detail
as you can, without looking at the text. You should therefore read the
story more than once. You can make a list of the names of people and places.
You can use that list when you write your version of the story.
In the small German town of Halle there once lived a barber-surgeon named
George Handel. In those days barbers were nearly always surgeons as well,
and George Handel was a very respected member of the profession. He had
a large family of sons and daughters, the youngest of whom was called George
Frederick. When quite a small child this little fellow showed a decided
taste for music. In the nursery his only toys were trumpets, drums, flutes,
and anything out of which he could get musical sounds. As he grew older
this intense love of music increased, until it became the one great thought
and pleasure of his life. Seeing this his father was very distressed and
alarmed, for he did not wish his little son to take up music as the means
of earning his living.
At that time organists and musicians
were very poorly paid, and George Handel wanted his boy to get on well
in the world. So he tried to turn the child’s mind away from all such ideas,
by never allowing him to go to any place where music was performed, and
by sending every instrument out of his house. But in spite of so much care
and trouble taken, it was impossible to destroy the strongest desire of
the boy’s nature.
One night, after the household
had gone to bed, Mr. Handel was awakened by the sound of soft music stealing
from an unused garret. He arose in great surprise, and calling his wife
they went to find out the cause of these strange sounds.
Going quietly to the garret
they paused to listen outside for a few moments, when their astonishment
was increased by the beauty of the melody which met their ears. Then, opening
the door and holding up the candle he carried, George Handel peered wonderingly
into the dusty old lumber-room. There, seated at a clavichord (an instrument
something like a piano, only much smaller), was his little son Frederick,
then only six years old. The child had coaxed one of his aunts, who was
his friend and sympathizer, to help him smuggle the clavichord into the
garret, where he taught himself to play while his parents were asleep,
or out of the house.
The wonderful sweetness of the
music, together with the earnest entreaties of the tiny performer, softened
the heart of his father to forgiveness of his conduct. But even then the
old gentleman could not be induced to allow his son to follow the profession
for which nature had so well fitted him, as he feared he would not be able
to earn his living at it. However, it happened not long after that the
Duke of Saxe-Weissenfels heard the boy play, and was so struck by his genius
that he persuaded his parent to consent to have him properly trained.
When once he was enabled to
continue his studies under the guidance of a good master, it did not take
young Handel long to show not only his father, but the whole world, that
he was a truly great and marvellously gifted musician. To-day his famous
oratorios are played everywhere, and people delight in them and marvel
at them just as much as when they were first produced.