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Feb 23 Handel's Messiah

Today we remember the birth of : George Frederick Handel, composer of the oratorio "Messiah," which is now one of the best-known and most frequently performed choral works in Western music and is the centrepiece of many Christmas seasons.

His talent spotted at an early age he learned composing and playing the organ in his parish in Halle in Germany. After periods in Berlin and then Hamburg, Handel travelled to Italy at the request of one of the Medici family. Working in Rome and, since opera was (temporarily) banned in the Papal States, he composed sacred music for the Roman clergy. Handel became Kapellmeister to German prince George who in 1714 would become King George I of Great Britain and Ireland. Handel decided to settle permanently in England. In the summer of 1713 he lived at Mr Mathew Andrews' estate in Barn Elms, Surrey where he received a yearly income of £200 from Queen Anne. Handel's reputation in England had been established through his compositions of Italian opera. He adapted to English oratorio in the 1730s in response to changes in public taste; and the Messiah was his sixth work in this genre. Although its structure resembles that of opera, it is not in dramatic form; there are no impersonations of characters and no direct speech.

The Messiah is based on a scriptural text compiled by Charles Jennens from the King James Bible, and from the Coverdale Psalter, the version of the Psalms included with the Book of Common Prayer Jennens's text is an extended reflection on Jesus as the Messiah called Christ. cont,,,,


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