Handel Oratorio Messiah

Classical Music / Oratorio:  Handel's Messiah

Greatest Oratorio of all time, with its powerful "Hallelujah Chorus"


George Frideric Handel's sacred music, Messiah, remains the most famous oratorio for Easter and Christmas. Facts and other information are revisited in this article. Messiah, a fixture of the Christmas season most especially the "Hallelujah Chorus," is in fact not originally created by George F. Handel for Christmas but for Lent.

Brief Information of Oratorio Messiah

George Frideric Handel's oratorio Messiah is first performed on April 13, 1742, the Tuesday before Easter, in a small theatre in Dublin, Ireland. In particular, it is customary for the audience, Christians and any believer of Christ's birth and resurrection, to rise during the singing of the "Hallelujah Chorus" being carried away by the magnificence of the music.

George F. Handel set Charles Jennens' Biblical libretto to an oratorio music with much speed in the summer of 1741. In just 24 days, Messiah was completed, August 22–September 14. Like many of Handel's compositions, Messiah is much adapted liberally from his earlier works. He wrote the piece while staying as a guest at Jennens' country house in Leicestershire, England. It is thought that the work was completed inside a garden temple.

Starting in 1745, the performance of the Messiah became an yearly event in Dublin during Holy Week. It was only during the 19th century when it crossed the Atlantic that performances of the oratorio became associated with the Christmas season.

Watch and enjoy one of the best performances of Handel's Messiah I've heard in YouTube:   Collegium 1704 in Prague, conducted by Václav Luks Hana Blažíková, soprano; Delphine Galou, contralto; Markus Brutscher, tenor; Marián Krejcik, bass. (I'm trying to be objective here. I've various CDs of this music collected through the years, and being a chorister at Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, I can easily feature Handel's Messiah we performed in 2015, the first time a Sign Language is incorporated in a Handel's Messiah performance. This one below from Collegium 1704 is, I think, fabulous. 


Georg Frideric Handel's Oratorio Messiah


Recommended Listening: 
Handel's MESSIAH with London Philharmonic. Uploaded by Jose Garcia. Accessed Feb. 23, 2018. 
Hallelujah - Choir of King's College, Cambridge live performance of Handel's Messiah

Video Credit:
G.F. Hansel: Messiah HWV 56. YouTube, uploaded by classicalplus.  Accessed April 13, 2017.

Resource: 
Pahlen, Kurt. The World of Oratorio. Portland, Oregon: Amadeus Press (1990)

Note: First published at Suite101 last April 13, 2008, and amended for IPW, 2010. Latest changes, February 23, 2018.  

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