Handel's Messiah

Overview

An authority on eighteenth-century music explores the background and composition of Messiah and gives the complex subsequent history of the work. Paintings, engravings, caricatures, and facsimiles of Handel's autograph score illustrate the text. A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book

Luckett explores the background and composition of Messiah--the often stormy relations between Handel and his librettist, the colorful lives and personalities ...

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Overview

An authority on eighteenth-century music explores the background and composition of Messiah and gives the complex subsequent history of the work. Paintings, engravings, caricatures, and facsimiles of Handel's autograph score illustrate the text. A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book

Luckett explores the background and composition of Messiah--the often stormy relations between Handel and his librettist, the colorful lives and personalities of the original soloists, and the circumstances of the first performance in Dublin, 1742. Paintings, engravings, caricatures, and fascimiles.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A joyous but far from superficial paean to Handel's beloved masterwork. Only very occasionally does there appear a book about great music that doesn't wind up somehow diminishing the music itself. This is such a book. Luckett, the librarian at Magdalene College, Cambridge, modestly disclaims breaking any new scholarly ground, but the wealth of erudition that illuminates his description of the backdrop (musical and social), composition, and performance history of Messiah is truly impressive. All the familiar material is here, and a good deal more besides. Even the more quirky references (e.g., Dr. Johnson's patronizing remarks about Dublin, which heard the first performance in 1742) add to the superb texture. And the writing is beyond praise: Describing Handel's retreat from opera to the new form of oratorio, Luckett articulates the difficulties of saying farewell to "...the irrational element, the pull of opera for its own ephemeral sake, the love affair that persists despite and because of the sweat and the greasepaint, the squalls and squalor, the cliques and cabals, for the sake of that one shudder of the realized dream." By the time that the aging, financially beleaguered master combines his earthy sense of rhythm and melody with a lifetime of musical learning to create his immortal treatment of the most sacred of religious subjects, the reader understands what makes "classical" music a living as well as lively art. Moreover, Luckett, going past Handel's death, provides a smart, wry history of emendations, "improvements," and performances up almost to our own day. A book worthy of its subject and its subtitle, and one that deserves far more than a specialist readership. AHandelian home run.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780156001380
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 10/13/1995
  • Series: Harvest Book Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 260
  • Sales rank: 856,418
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.59 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements 10
Introduction 11
1 A Novel Entertainment 17
2 To th' Hibernian Shore 46
3 'Begin the Song': Jennens's Libretto 69
4 'The Ravished Ear': The Music of Messiah 86
5 'That Generous and Polite Nation': The Dublin Performance 107
6 'Bishops and other Squeamish People': Messiah under Threat 138
7 'The Benevolent Design': The Birth of an Institution 159
8 'The Universal Song': The Apogee of Messiah 181
9 Messiah Improved? 205
10 Messiah Restored? 225
A Summary of the Main Variants in Messiah 240
Bibliography 242
Index 249
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