We see in the contemporary newspaper reports, memoirs and letters, a man of great contrasts. While he could dash off the most sublime music at remarkable speed, he would bestow countless hours on revising the minutest details. He combined a fiery temper with great loyalty and generosity.
Few composers have been so fêted in their lifetimes, and yet Handel was also vilified and conspired against. Despite great success and royal patronage, he spent his years in London struggling to make a living. His determination, resilience and talent are remarkable and affecting.
Victor Schoelcher (1804-1893) was born into a wealthy Parisian family of porcelain merchants. He was a politician, journalist, art critic and musicologist, but is mostly remembered for his role in the abolition of slavery in the French colonies. He also campaigned for women's rights and for the abolition of the death penalty.