"George Frideric Handel was in his person fat and slovenly, gluttonous, bowlegged, bovine of expression, often to be seen lurching about the streets of London muttering to himself in German like some rummy ship-jumper. He was generally perceived to be mad in some degree; modern observers note evidence of manic depression, one sympton of which was his bizarre creative frenzies. All the same, by the end of a career of extravagant ups and precipitous downs, he had come to represent to his own time just about what he represents to ours: one of those angel-smitten geniuses who are the glories of our species."
"Then as now, that reputation was founded primarily on a single work of unprecedented popularity, Messiah. So magnificent and nearly ubiquitous is this oratoria that it has long threatened to crowd the rest of his work out of the public ear. That masterpiece was no fluke, however, but simply the most consistently inspired work of an artist who depended more than most on the inspiration of his muse. His contemporary, Bach, was the period's great architect in sound; Handel was its great improviser."
— Jan Swafford