Getting a Handel on Messiah

PDF EBook by David W. Barber

EBook Description

All of us have heard bits and pieces from Handel’s Messiah – the Hallelujah Chorus, if nothing else. Getting a Handel on Messiah PDF EBook But what makes Messiah such a popular work? And how did it come to be?

The History of Messiah.

Prior to composing Messiah, Handel had composed many other operas – several were even based on Biblical stories. However, in spite of his creativity, Handel was not in a good financial situation in the early 1740s, and when the opportunity came for him to travel from London to Dublin, he jumped at the chance.

It was there in Dublin, on April 13, 1742, that Messiah made its debut. It was immediately and loudly heralded by the Irish. But when Handel brought Messiah to London, it was received with less fervor. In fact, it was received with so little warmth, that there were several years in which it was not performed, including a four- PDFyear stretch between 1745 and 1749. During this time, Handel made changes to Messiah; download; he reworked several sections and found new vocalists. When Messiah reemerged in 1749, it was warmly received.

Down through the centuries Messiah has remained remarkably popular. Its sober lyrics and glorious music thrill audiences across the globe, while its place in history is confirmed. Its days of struggling are passed – the world shall never forget Messiah.


Barber writes in an irreverent humorous style (which he admits himself). His self-appointed job is to make fun of everybody – Handel, his critics, his admirers, everyone. It is hilarious to read, but removes the solemnity from the glorious work and casts Handel’s motives for composing Messiah in a purely mercenary light.

Barber addresses several licentious situations with the freedom and irreverence which he uses in other situations. Nothing is outright stated, but it is hinted around and joked about. I would probably blot out these parts if I allowed my children to read the book at all.

Conclusion. A very informative account, but one which is inclined towards mockery. I would only recommend Getting a Handel on Messiah to older students of music who have been trained to take what they read with a mound of salt.

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