Born in Halle in the German state of Saxony, George Frideric Handel was trained as an organist and a composer. As a young man, he traveled to Italy, where he absorbed the Italian style of music and the operatic form. He eventually settled in Great Britain, where he became famous as one of the greatest masters of baroque music. As a youth, Handel became an accomplished harpsichordist and organist, studied violin and oboe, and became familiar with the music of contemporary German and Italian composers. During his stay in Italy from 1706 to 1710, he composed several operas and oratorios, which helped establish his early success. This success led to an appointment in Germany as musical director to the prince of Hanover. After only a brief stay in Hanover, Handel visited Great Britain in order to stage his opera Rinaldo. In 1712 he again returned to Great Britain and decided to make it his permanent residence. Then, in 1714, the prince of Hanover became King George I of England, and Handel enjoyed the patronage of the new royal family of his adopted homeland. He became a naturalized British citizen in 1726. Handel's musical output was prodigious. He wrote 46 operas, among them Julius Caesar (1724) and Berenice (1737); 33 oratorios, the most famous of which is the widely celebrated The Messiah (1742); 100 Italian solo cantatas; and numerous orchestral works, including 12 grand concertos (1739). In 1751 Handel suffered a sight impairment that led to total blindness by 1753. Nonetheless, Handel continued to conduct performances of his works, which strongly influenced British composers for a century after his death in 1759.