George Frideric Handel vs. Georg Friederich Händel
According to the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians the are two accepted (acceptable?) spellings of Handel’s full name. The first—George Frideric Handel—reflects the way it’s spelled in English (since his lifetime). The other—Georg Friederich Händel—is the German equivalent.
The Grove also mentions a third popular spelling of only his last name from the 18th Century—Hendel.
As for the full-name spellings, the one in English is the most commonly used today around the world, while the other is primarily employed by Germans, German-speakers, Germanophiles, etc. (For obvious reasons.) Alternatively, the last name can also be rendered “Haendel” in German, eliminating the use of a potentially awkward umlaut, also in common use.
There are, however, instances where the two are conflated into a single Anglo-German bastardization worthy of a double take (click on the highlighted text to see example).
- The title of an information page on Facebook
- A track of music on YouTube
- A “Messiah” review
- Program notes for a Rolando Villazón recital
These are just a few examples of something that happens more often than you might assume. So, which is correct?
Learn More: Who is G.F. Handel?
(Handel’s signature, courtesy of the Handel House Museum)