"Handel" is a carefully written, extensively footnoted biography by a fellow musician, who is considered a premier interpreter of this composer's works. It takes careful reading, but there are treasures within. One of my favorite anecdotes concerns Handel's wig:
"...Handel wore the Sir Godfrey Kneller wig: greatest of wigs: one of which some great General of the day used to take off his head after the fatigue of the battle, and hand over to his valet to have the bullets combed out of it. Such a wig was a fugue in itself." (Edward Fitzgerald, 1845)
Christopher Hogwood composed this biography from many original sources: letters; contemporaneous biographies; press clippings; court proceedings; paintings; and even a rather rude cartoon. He gently admonishes earlier Handel biographers for their errors, and presents both Handel, the genius, and Handel, the pig-headed Saxon bully, who once attempted to defenestrate a recalcitrant soprano.
It was quite enthralling to read about all of my favorite operas and oratorios, presented in loving detail, and scrupulously tracing all of Handel's `borrowings,' both from his earlier works, and from the compositions of others. Hogwood subscribes to Jonathan Richardson's defence of borrowings in the arts (1719):
"Nor need any Man be asham'd to be sometimes a Plagiary, `tis what the greatest Painters, and Poets have allowed themselves...indeed `tis hard that a Man having had a good Thought should have a Patent for it for Ever..."
Where Handel did borrow, he improved.
I highly recommend this biography to all lovers of the music of `Il Caro Sassone.'