During the Christmas season, few musical compositions rivals the magic of Messiah’s “Hallelujah” chorus by George Frederick Handel.
Words from an anonymous poem expresses it best:
But Handel’s harmony affects the soul,
to sooth by sweetness, or by force controul;
The Gentleman’s Magazine (May 1740),
Handel, a German, was musically trained in opera by Italians and seasoned in southern German sounds. These experiences came together in presentations of oratorios to England. Even today the baroque tradition of this composer continue to contribute experiences as instrumentation of all types and sounds take stage with new technological advances.
Georg Frederick Handel (1685-1759) was born in Halle, Germany the same year as Bach. He studied with the great organist Wilhem Zachou from the age of seven to nine. In 1706 he went to Italy and began mastering contemporary trends of opera. He returned to Germany as Court composer for the Elector of Hannover who would become the English King George I.
With the blessing of his former patron, Handel went to England. He shifted his focus from presenting operas to the wealthy to delivering understandable musical experiences to the middle class via oratorios sang in English. It flourished. He died a wealthy and respected composer.
Click the oog file link or mp3 file link to hear the beloved Hallelujah chorus. Sing along.
Feel the power it generates through its prose and the promise it proclaims.
Oratorio – A musical composition for voices and orchestra, telling a sacred story without costumes, scenery, or dramatic action.
Baroque– a style of composition that flourished in Europe from about 1600 to 1750, marked by elaborate musical ornamentation and development of new instrumental playing techniques.