George Frideric Handel

The Best of Handel
Handel: Oratorio arias

Almira - 1705
Rinaldo - 1711
"Water Music" - 1717
"Acis and Galatea" - 1718
"Ottone" - 1723
"Giulio Cesare" - 1724
Rodelinda - 1725
Alcina - 1728
Concerti Grossi, Op. 3 - 1734
"Alexander's Feast" - 1736
"Berenice" - 1737

"Saul" - 1739
"Israel in Egypt" - 1739

"Messiah" - 1741
"Samson" 1741-1743
"Belshazzar" - 1744
Judas Maccabaeus - 1746
Solomon - 1748
"Music for the Royal Fireworks" - 1749
"Jephta" - 1751
George Frideric Handel
"Saul" - 1739
Saul (HWV 53) is a dramatic oratorio in three acts written by George Frideric Handel with a libretto by Charles Jennens. Taken from the First Book of Samuel, the story of Saul focuses on the first king of Israel's relationship with his eventual successor, David; one which turns from admiration to envy and hatred, ultimately leading to the downfall of the eponymous monarch. The work, which Handel composed in 1738, includes the famous "Dead March", a funeral anthem for Saul and his son Jonathan, and some of the composer's most dramatic choral pieces. Saul was first performed at the King's Theatre in London on 16 January 1739. The work was a success at its London premiere and was revived by Handel in subsequent seasons.

The German-born Handel had been resident in London since 1712 and had there enjoyed great success as a composer of Italian operas. His opportunities to set English texts to music had been more limited; he had spent the years 1717 to 1719 as composer in residence to the wealthy Duke of Chandos where he had written church anthems and two stage works, Acis and Galatea and Esther; and had composed vocal music to English words for various royal occasions, including a set of Coronation anthems for George II in 1727, which had made a huge impact. In 1731, a performance of the 1718 version of Esther, a work in English based on a Biblical drama by Jean Racine, was given in London without Handel's participation and had proved popular, so Handel revised the work and planned to present it at the theatre where his Italian operas were being presented. However the Bishop of London would not permit a drama based on a Biblical story to be acted out on the stage, and therefore Handel presented Esther in concert form, thus giving birth to the English oratorio.
Esther in its revised form proved a popular work, and Handel, though still continuing to focus on composition of Italian operas, followed Esther with two more sacred dramas with English words to be presented in concert form, Deborah, and Athalia (which, like Esther, was also based on a Biblical drama by Racine), both in 1733.

Composition and instrumentation

By 1738, Handel was experiencing some difficulty in maintaining support for his Italian opera seasons in London and he collaborated with for the first time with Charles Jennens, a wealthy landowner and lover of the arts, who also provided the texts for Messiah and other oratorios of Handel. Jennens wrote Saul, an original English text based on Biblical characters, especially designed to provide opportunities for the sort of music Handel composed.
Opera seria, the form of Italian opera that Handel composed for London, focused overwhelmingly on solo arias and recitatives for the star singers and contained very little else; they did not feature separate choruses. With the English oratorios Handel had the opportunity to mix operatic arias in English for the soloists with large choruses of the type that he used in the Coronation anthems. Jennens provided a text with well-rounded characters and dramatic effects. The collaboration with Jennens was not without tension; Jennens referred in a letter to the "maggots" in Handel's head and complained that Handel wanted to end the work with a chorus of "Hallelujahs" that the librettist did not feel was appropriate as at the end of the piece Israel has been defeated in battle and the King and Crown Prince both killed, whereas the Hallelujahs would be suited to the celebrations at the opening of the work when David has killed Goliath. Jennens got his way; in the completed version Saul does not end with a chorus of "Hallelujahs" but there is such a chorus where Jennens had wanted one.
Handel composed the music of Saul between July and September 1738. He conceived Saul on the grandest scale and included a large orchestra with many instrumental effects which were unusual for the time including a carillon (a keyboard instrument which makes a sound like chiming bells); a specially constructed organ for himself to play during the course of the work; trombones, not standard orchestral instruments at that time, giving the work a heavy brass component; large kettledrums specially borrowed from the Tower of London; extra woodwinds for the Witch of Endor scene; and a harp solo.
In the same letter in which Jennens complained that Handel wanted a chorus of "Hallelujahs" at a point of the drama the writer felt was inappropriate, he wrote of a meeting he had with Handel to discuss the work and the composer's delight in some of the unusual instruments he planned to use:
Mr. Handel's head is more full of Maggots than ever: I found yesterday in His room a very queer Instrument which He calls Carillon (Anglice a Bell) & says some call it a Tubal-cain, I suppose because it is in the make and tone like a Hammer striking upon Anvils. 'Tis played upon with Keys like a Harpsichord, & with this Cyclopean Instrument he designs to make poor Saul stark mad. His second Maggot is an Organ of 500£ price, which (because he is overstock'd with Money) he has bespoke of one Moss of Barnet; this Organ, he says, is so contriv'd that as he sits at it he has a better command of his Performers than he us'd to have; & he is highly delighted to think with what exactness his Oratorio will be perform'd by the help of this Organ; so that for the future, instead of beating time at his Oratorio's, he is to sit as his Organ all the time with his back to the Audience ... I could tell you more of his Maggots: but it grows late, and I must defer the rest till I write next; by which time, I doubt not, more new ones will breed in his Brain.
Also of note in that letter is the fact that although Handel's London seasons of Italian opera had not been drawing the audiences they had in former years, Jennens makes an incidental remark that the composer was very wealthy ("overstock'd with money").
On 5 December 1738 Lady Katherine Knatchbull, a friend and patron of Handel's, wrote to her brother-in-law James Harris, who was a writer on music and other subjects, and also a friend of the composer, "(Handel) desired me to give his tres humble respects; and that you must come up in January, for he opens with The Loves of Saul and Jonathan, then follows another on the ten plagues of Egypt (to me an odd subject) ... He has had an instrument made after the manner of Tubal-cain's, the inventor of music." (referring to the specially-built carillon. Going on to an attempt to describe a trombone, an instrument she had obviously never seen, she writes:) "He has also introduced the sackbut, a kind of trumpet,with more variety of notes,& it is 7 or 8-foot long,& draws in like a perspective glass, so may be shortend to 3-foot as the player chuses, or thrown out to its full length; despise not this description for I write from his own words."
In the 1954 edition of Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, specialist in the history of musical instruments Anthony Baines wrote that Saul contains the finest music for trombones composed in the 18th century.

Reception and performance history

A report in the London press remarked on the favourable reception given to the work at its first performance, with members of the royal family in attendance. The architect William Kent wrote to Lord Burlington after the first performance,referring to the passage with the carillon, "There is a pretty concerto in the oratorio, there is some stops in the Harpsicord that are little bells, I had thought it had been some squerrls in a cage. Saul was given six performances in its first season, a mark of success at that time, and was one of the works Handel most frequently revived in his subsequent seasons, being given in London in 1740, 1741,1744,1745 and 1750. Saul received a performance in Dublin under Handel's direction "by special request" in 1742.
Already in Handel's own lifetime, choral societies were formed in the English provinces with the aim of performing works of Handel and others and Saul was performed with a fair degree of regularity by choral societies in London and elsewhere in Britain through the 19th century. Handel's major oratorios including Saul have been frequently performed, broadcast and recorded since the second half of the twentieth century.
The excellence of the libretto and the power of Handel's musical characterisation combine to make Saul, in the words of Handel scholar Winton Dean,"one of the supreme masterpieces of dramatic art, comparable with the Oresteia and King Lear".

The Witch of Endor (Martynov)

The libretto is freely adapted from the First Book of Samuel, Chapters 16 – 31, with additional material from the epic poem, the Davideis by Abraham Cowley. The printed libretto of Saul from 1738 credits the Davideis as the source of the contemptuous treatment of David by Princess Merab.

Act One

The Israelites raise their voices in magnificent thanksgiving to God, for the young warrior David has slain the Philistine giant Goliath. At the court of King Saul, once a mighty warrior himself, all the people celebrate the hero David. Saul's son, Jonathan swears eternal devotion to David, but Saul's two daughters experience contrasting emotions – Michal is in love with David, but Merab feels contempt for him as a social inferior, a feeling that only increases when Saul offers her in marriage to David. A group of Israelite young women offer further tributes to the saviour of the country, David, which arouses King Saul to terrible jealousy. Unable to restrain himself, he hurls his javelin at David, who manages to escape, but Saul orders his son Jonathan to destroy him.

Act Two
The people of Israel reflect on the destructive power of envy. Jonathan informs David that his father has ordered him to kill him, but he will never consent to harm David. He tells David that Saul has given his daughter Merab to another man, but David is not sorry to hear it as he is in love with Michal. Jonathan pleads with his father to relent in his enmity to David, and the King seemingly accepts this advice, gives David his daughter Michal in marriage, and makes David head of the Israelite army – but he is secretly hoping that David will be killed in battle. When, instead, David is victorious, Saul attempts unsuccessfully to kill him again. Saul sends a messenger, Doeg, to arrest David at his home, but David escapes out a window. At the festival of the New Moon, the King questions Jonathan as to David's absence, and when Jonathan defends his friend, the King once again becomes infuriated and attempts to murder his own son.

Act Three

In despair, and realising that he is breaking his own laws and committing sacrilege, King Saul consults a medium, the Witch of Endor, to raise the ghost of Samuel the prophet in order to give him counsel. The ghost of Samuel has no comforting words for the King, telling him that both Saul and Jonathan will shortly be killed in battle with the Philistines, as God's punishment for Saul's disobedience in sparing the king of the Amalekites, defeated in a previous battle, whom Samuel had ordered Saul to kill. After the battle, David hears that Jonathan and the King have both met death, Saul at the hand of the Amalekite king himself. David orders the Amalekite to be executed. The people of Israel mourn their defeat by the Philistines, their slain King and his son, David feeling deeply the loss of Jonathan. "Great was the pleasure I enjoy'd in thee, And more than woman's love thy wondrous love to me!" The Israelites tell David that he must recover from the loss of his dear friend, lead them into battle once again, and repair the defeat of their country.

The "Dead March"

The "Dead March" played in Act Three, introducing the obsequies for the deaths of Saul and Jonathan, is in the key of C major. It includes an organ part and trombones alternating with flutes, oboes and quiet timpani. The "Dead March" in Saul has been played at state funerals in the United Kingdom, including that of Winston Churchill. It was performed at the funeral of George Washington, as well as being played many times during the journey of the body of Abraham Lincoln after his assassination to Springfield, Illinois.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Haendel - 1739 - Saul
Saul (oratorio in three acts), HWV 53 (1739)

Libretto: Charles Jennens

00:00 - Overture (Allegro - Larghetto - Allegro - Andante larghetto)

Act I.
07:59 - Scene i (Nos. 1 - 5) / How excellent Thy name, o Lord [Chorus]
16:40 - Scene ii (Nos. 6 - 19) / He comes, he comes! [Michal]
38:54 - Scene ii (Nos. 20 - 21) / Symphony (Andante allegro) & Already see the daughters of the land [Michal]
40:16 - Scene iii (Nos. 22 - 26) / Welcome, welcome, mighty king! [Chorus]
43:59 - Scene iv (Nos. 27 - 30) / Imprudent women! [Jonathan]
49:45 - Scene v (Nos. 31 - 37) / Racked with infernal pains [Abner]
1:01:51 - Scene vi (Nos. 38 - 41) / O filial piety! [Jonathan]

Act II.
1:08:26 - Scene i (No. 42) / Envy, Eldest born of hell! [Chorus]
1:11:16 - Scene ii (Nos. 43 - 47) / Ah! dearest friend [Jonathan]
1:19:10 - Scene iii (Nos. 48 - 51) / Hast thou obeyed my orders [Saul, Jonathan]
1:24:37 - Scene iv (Nos. 52 - 54) / Appear, my friend [Jonathan, Saul]
1:26:25 - Scene v (Nos. 55 - 57) / A father's will has authorised my love [Michal]
1:30:45 - No. 58: Symphony (Largo - Allegro)
1:35:19 - Scene vi (Nos. 59 - 60) / Thy father is as cruel [David]
1:36:56 - Scene vii (Nos. 61 - 62) / Whom dost thou seek [Michal, Doeg]
1:39:11 - Scene viii (Nos. 63 - 64) / Mean as he was, he is my brother now [Merab]
1:42:42 - No. 65: Symphony (Allegro)
1:43:48 - Scene ix (No. 66) / The time at length is come [Saul]
1:44:23 - Scene x (Nos. 67 - 68) / Where is the son of Jesse? [Saul, Jonathan]

Act III.
1:50:03 - Scene i (Nos. 69 - 70) / Wretch that I am [Saul]
1:53:23 - Scene ii (Nos. 71 - 72) / With me what would'st thou [Witch of Endor, Saul]
1:56:10 - Scene iii (Nos. 73) / Why hast thou forced me from the realms of peace [Ghost of Samuel, Saul]
1:58:52 - No. 74: Symphony (Allegro)
1:59:26 - Scene iv (Nos. 75 - 76) / Whence comest thou? [David, Amalekite]
2:02:17 - No. 77: March (Grave)
2:05:21 - Scene v (Nos. 78 - 86) / Mourn, Israel [Chorus]

Michal (soprano) - Rosemary Joshua
Merab (soprano) - Emma Bell
David (countertenor) - Lawrence Zazzo
Jonathan (tenor) - Jeremy Ovenden
High Priest/Witch of Endor (tenor) - Michael Slattery
Amalekite/Abner (tenor) - Finnur Bjarnason
Doeg/Ghost of Samuel (baritone) - Henry Waddington
Saul (bass) - Gidon Saks

RIAS Kammerchor & Concerto Köln, dir. René Jacobs (2005)

"Israel in Egypt" - 1739
Israel in Egypt (HWV 54) is a biblical oratorio by the composer George Frideric Handel. Most scholars believe the libretto was prepared by Charles Jennens, who also compiled the Biblical texts for Handel's Messiah. It is composed entirely of selected passages from the Old Testament, mainly from Exodus and the Psalms.
Israel in Egypt premiered at London's King's Theatre in the Haymarket on April 4, 1739. Handel started it soon after the opera season at King's Theatre was cancelled for lack of subscribers. The oratorio was not well received by the first audience though commended in the Daily Post, and the second performance was shortened, the mainly choral work now augmented with Italian- style arias.
The first version of the piece is in three parts rather than two, the first part more famous as "The ways of Zion do mourn", with altered text as "The sons of Israel do mourn" lamenting the death of Joseph. This section precedes the Exodus, which in the tripartite version is Part II rather than Part I.
Handel had long been resident in London and had enjoyed great success as a composer of Italian operas there. However in 1733 a rival opera company to Handel's, The Opera of the Nobility, had split the audience for Italian opera in London. There was not enough support for two Italian opera companies and Handel began to find new audiences through presenting oratorio and other choral works in English. Handel's oratorio Saul, with a text by Charles Jennens, was presented at the King's Theatre in January 1739, and for the same season Handel composed Israel in Egypt, writing the music in one month between 1 October and 1 November 1738. Israel in Egypt is one of only two oratorios by Handel with a text compiled from verses from the Bible, the other being Messiah. The librettist of Israel in Egypt is uncertain, but most scholars believe Charles Jennens compiled both texts. Israel in Egypt and Messiah also share the unusual characteristic among Handel oratorios in that, unlike the others, they do not have casts of named characters singing dialogue and performing an unstaged drama, but contain many choruses set to Biblical texts.
As was a common practice with Handel, Israel in Egypt recycles music from previous compositions he had written and also contains a number of pieces that re-work compositions by other composers.  The Funeral Anthem for Queen Caroline, "The Ways of Zion do Mourn" from 1737 was slightly re-written and used as the opening part of Israel in Egypt, and there is extensive use of musical parody, or re-working of music by other composers, including Alessandro Stradella, Jean-Philippe Rameau, and others, into Handel's own composition.
Much more than the previous works by Handel which were designed, like Israel in Egypt, to attract paying audiences to a commercial venture in a privately owned theatre, the piece lays overwhelming emphasis on the chorus. London audiences at that time were not used to such extensive choral pieces presented as commercial entertainment, and perhaps particularly the opening dirge, of about thirty minutes in length, for the death of Joseph, adapted from the funeral anthem for a recently deceased Queen, contributed to the failure of Israel in Egypt at its first performance. Handel quickly revised the work, omitting the opening "Lamentations" section and adding Italian-style arias of the kind contemporary audiences expected and enjoyed. In its two sectioned form,Israel in Egypt was very popular in the 19th century with choral societies. Today many performances of the work use Handel's original three part version.

The Crossing of The Red Sea by Nicolas Poussin


Part One
The Israelites Mourn, from a 1728 illustrated Bible
The Israelites mourn the death of Joseph, Israelite and favoured adviser to Pharaoh, King of Egypt.

Part Two

An announcement is made that a new Pharaoh has come to the throne who does not look kindly on the Israelites. God chooses Moses to lead his people out of bondage. A series of plagues falls on Egypt: the rivers turn to blood; a plague of frogs affects the land; blotches and blisters break out on the skin of cattle and people; flies and lice swarm everywhere; locusts appear and destroy all the crops; hailstorms blight the country; a palpable darkness descends; and, finally, the eldest born sons of all the Egyptians are struck down dead. The ruler of Egypt agrees to let the Israelites depart, but changes his mind and pursues them. The Red Sea miraculously parts to let the Israelites cross in safety, but when the pursuing Egyptians try to cross, the waters engulf them and they are drowned.

Part Three
The Israelites celebrate their deliverance.

Very early wax cylinder recording of excerpt
For a long time, the earliest known recording of music known to still exist was an excerpt from this oratorio conducted by August Manns. The recording was of several thousand singers singing "Moses and the Children of Israel"  in the Crystal Palace Handel Festival of June 29, 1888, recorded by Col. George Gouraud on Edison's yellow paraffin cylinder. The limitations of recording technology at that time, together with the number of voices, the distance of the recording device from the singers and the acoustics of the Crystal Palace, mean that the recorded sound was dim to begin with, and it has since then become badly degraded. What survives is barely audible but still identifiable by ear, and gives some insight into performance practices at the height of the Handel Festival phenomenon.

ISRAEL IN EGYPT ( 1ère partie )
Londres 1739

Elsie Morrison - Marjorie Thomas - Richard Lewis - Donald Lea - Stanley Riley
The Handel Society Choir
The Handel Society Orchestra

Handel: Israel in Egypt (Part Two: Moses' Song) by Heather Harper, Esswood, Young
Israel in Egypt / Israel in Ägypten/ Israël en Egypte. Oratorio in 2 parts HWV 54

Heather Harper, soprano I
Patricia Clark, soprano II
Paul Esswood, countertenor
Alexander Young, tenor
Michael Rippon, Christopher Keyte, bass I & II
Leeds Festival Chorus (Chorus Master: Donald Hunt)
English Chamber Orchestra
Conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras

1. Introitus (chorus): Moses and the children of Israel
2. Duet (sop I & II): The Lord is my strength and my song 3:47
3. Chorus: He is my God 7:45
4. Duet (bass I & II): The Lord is a man of war 11:20
5. Chorus: The depths have covered them
6. Chorus: Thy right hand, O Lord
7. Chorus: And with the blast of Thy nostrils
8. Air (tenor): The enemy said: "I will porsue"
9. Air (soprano): Thou didst blow with the wind
10. Chorus: Who is like unto Thee
11. Duet (countertenor & tenor): Thou in Thy mercy
12. Chorus: The people shall hear
13. Air (countertenor): Thou shalt bring them in
14. Chorus: The Lord shall reign
15. Recit. (tenor): For the horse of Pharaoh
16. Chorus: The Lord shall reign
17. Recit. (tenor): And Miriam, the prophetess
18. Soprano solo & chorus: Sing ye to the Lord, 50:55 for He hath triumphed gloriously! The Lord shall reignfor ever and ever. The horse and his rider hath He thrown into the sea. The Lord shall reign for ever and ever: I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed...

"Messiah" - 1741
Messiah (HWV 56) is an English-language oratorio composed in 1741 by George Frideric Handel, with a scriptural text compiled by Charles Jennens from the King James Bible, and from the version of the Psalms included with the Book of Common Prayer. It was first performed in Dublin on 13 April 1742 and received its London premiere nearly a year later. After an initially modest public reception, the oratorio gained in popularity, eventually becoming one of the best-known and most frequently performed choral works in Western music.
Handel's reputation in England, where he had lived since 1712, had been established through his compositions of Italian opera. He turned to English oratorio in the 1730s, in response to changes in public taste; 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 very little direct speech. Instead, Jennens's text is an extended reflection on Jesus Christ as Messiah. The text begins in Part I with prophecies by Isaiah and others, and moves to the annunciation to the shepherds, the only "scene" taken from the Gospels. In Part II, Handel concentrates on the Passion and ends with the "Hallelujah" chorus. In Part III he covers the resurrection of the dead and Christ's glorification in Heaven.
Handel wrote Messiah for modest vocal and instrumental forces, with optional settings for many of the individual numbers. In the years after his death, the work was adapted for performance on a much larger scale, with giant orchestras and choirs. In other efforts to update it, its orchestration was revised and amplified by (among others) Mozart. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries the trend has been towards reproducing a greater fidelity to Handel's original intentions, although "big Messiah" productions continue to be mounted. A near-complete version was issued on 78 rpm discs in 1928; since then the work has been recorded many times.
Haendel - Messiah - Christopher Hogwood Academy of Ancient Music
Georg Friedrich Händel, Messiah , Oratorio 1741
Christopher Hogwood conducts Academy of Ancient Music
Choir of Westminster Abbey, organist and director Simon Preston
Singers : Judith Nelson, Emma Kirby, Carolyn Watkinson, Paul Elliot, David Thomas
1.Symphony 0:00
2.Comfort ye, My people 2:56
3.Ev'ry Valley shall be exalted 5:54
3.Chorus: And the glory of the Lord 9:25
4.But who may abide 13:27
5. Chorus: And He shall purify the sons of Levi 17:34
6.Aria:O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion 20:32
7.The people that walked in darkness 26:19
8. Chorus: "For unto us a Child is born" 31:59
9.Pifa (Pastoral Symphony) 36:03
10.Chorus: Glory to God 38:25
11.Air: Rejoice greatly, o daughter of Zion 40:21
12.He shall feed his flock 45:13
13.Chorus: His yoke is easy 50:10
14.Chorus: Behold the Lamb of God 52:26
15.He was despised 54:45
16.Chorus: Surely he hath borne...Chorus: And with his 1:05:52
17.Chorus: All we like sheep have gone astray 1:09:21
18.Chorus: He trusted in God 1:13:54
19.Behold 1:17:58
20.But thou didst not leave his soul in hell 1:19:50
21.Chorus: Lift up your heads 1:22:14
22.Chorus: Let all the Angels 1:25:44
23.Thou art gone up on high 1:27:11
24.Chorus: The Lord gave the word 1:30:17
25.Air: How beautiful are the feet 1:31:33
26.Chorus: Their sound is gone out 1:33:39
27.Why do the nations...Let us break their bonds asunder 1:35:02
26.Thou shalt break them 1:38:25
28.Chorus: "Hallelujah" 1:40:28
29.I know that my Redeemer liveth 1:44:09
30.Chorus: Since by man came death 1:49:36
31.The Trumpet shall sound 1:52:19
32.O Death 2:00:54
33.Air: If God be for us 2:04:15
34.Worthy is the Lamb... Blessing and honour 2:08:44
"Samson" 1741-1743

Poster for an early American performance of Samson
Samson (HWV 57) is a three-act oratorio by George Frideric Handel, considered one of his finest dramatic works. It is usually performed as an oratorio in concert form, but on occasions has also been staged as an opera. The well-known arias "Let the bright Seraphim" (for soprano) and "Total eclipse" (for tenor) are often performed separately in concert.


Handel began its composition immediately after completing Messiah on 14 September 1741. It uses a libretto by Newburgh Hamilton, who based it on Milton's Samson Agonistes, which in turn was based on the figure Samson in Chapter 16 of the Book of Judges. Handel completed the first act on 20 September 1741, the second act on 11 October that year and the whole work on 29 October. Shortly after that he travelled to Dublin to put on the premiere of Messiah, returning to London at the end of August 1742 and thoroughly revising Samson.
The premiere was given at Covent Garden in London on 18 February 1743, with the incidental organ music probably the recently-completed concerto in A major (HWV 307). The oratorio was a great success, leading to a total of seven performances in its first season, the most in a single season of any of his oratorios. Samson retained its popularity throughout Handel's lifetime and has never fallen entirely out of favor since.


Act 1
Blind and in chains, Samson is recovering from his slavery since the Philistines are having a festival in honour of their god Dagon. He grieves at his fate.
The Israelites observe how their once invincible hero lies and that there is now no hope. Micah sees the whole people's lot reflected in his own. Samson reproaches himself, because he has been betrayed by his wife Dalila, and especially laments his loss of sight.
Samson's father Manoah finds Samson and is shocked by his transformation. Samson longs for death, but is comforted by the Chorus of Israelites that he will triumph over death and time.

Act 2

Micah and the Israelites call upon God to look upon the troubles of his servant. Dalila tries to recover Samson's love but her attempts to re-ensnare him come to nothing.
The Philistine Harapha comes to insult Samson, who challenges him to a duel. Harapha, however, reviles Samson, claiming it is beneath his dignity to fight with a blind man. Samson mocks him as a braggart. Micah proposes to measure the power of Dagon against that of the god of the Israelites. The Israelite and Philistine choruses both praise their God.

Act 3
Harapha arrives to take Samson to the feast of the Philistines and show him off there. Samson at first refuses to be present at the worship of Dagon, but then thinks of a plan and agrees to go to the festival, though he warns the Israelites to stay away from it.
Manoah arrives with plans for the children of Israel, including how to free Samson. From a distance are heard the songs of the Philistines, calling on Dagon. Suddenly the audience hears noise and panic.
An Israelite messenger arrives and tells the audience what has happened: Samson pulled down the building on himself and the Philistines. Samson's dead body is brought out and the children of Israel play and sing a funeral march. At the end, the Lord is praised.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Händel: Samson, sacred oratorio in three acts | Harry Bicket
Susan Gritton: Dalila
• Iestyn Davies: Micah
• Mark Padmore: Samson
• Neal Davies: Manoa
• Christopher Purves: Harapha
• Lucy Crowe: Israelite woman / Philsitine woman / Virgin
• Ben Johnson: Israelite man / Philistine man / Messenger

The English Concert & The New Company
Conducted by Harry Bicket

Royal Albert Hall © Broadcast by BBC, Proms 2009

Haendel Great Choruses from Samson
Harry Bicket, conductor
Handel - Total Eclipse - Oratorio Samson
Samson (Tenor): Marc Le Broq.

A concert recording according to the traditions of the time
from the church of the UNESCO World Heritage Monastery Maulbronn.

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa sings "Let the Bright Seraphim" - Handel
Dame Kiri Te Kanawa sings "Let the Bright Seraphim" from the oratorio "Samson" by George Frideric Handel (1685-1759). With Australian Pops Orchestra, John Hopkins / conductor. Recorded at State Theatre Victorian Arts Centre Melbourne, Australia, 1993.
Let the bright seraphim (Handel - Samson) Danielle De Niese Floris Onstwedder
2009 Prinsengracht (Prince's Canal) concert featuring Danielle De Niese. Song from Handel's Samson.(featuring the AVRO broadcasting corporation music centre players and 17-year old trumpetter Floris Onstwedder).
Haendel - Great Choruses from Samson
"Belshazzar" - 1744


Belshazzar (HWV 61) is an oratorio by George Frideric Handel. The libretto was by Charles Jennens, and Handel abridged it considerably. Jennens' libretto was based on the Biblical account of the fall of Babylon at the hands of Cyrus the Great and the subsequent freeing of the Jewish nation, as found in the Book of Daniel.
Handel composed Belshazzar in the late Summer of 1744 concurrently with Hercules, during a time that Winton Dean calls "the peak of Handel's creative life". The work premiered the following Lenten season on 27 March 1745 at the King's Theatre in London. The work fell into neglect after Handel's death, with revivals of the work occurring in the United Kingdom in 1847, 1848 and 1873.

Dramatis Personae

Belshazzar, King of Babylon (tenor)
Nitocris, mother of Belshazzar (soprano)
Cyrus, Prince of Persia (contralto)
Daniel, a Jewish prophet (contralto)
Gobrias, an Assyrian Nobleman, revolted to Cyrus (bass)
Arioch, a Babylonian Lord (tenor)
Messenger (bass)
Chorus of Wise Men
Chorus of Jews
Chorus of Babylonians
Chorus of Medes and Persians

List of movements in Belshazzar

Act I

1. Overture
Act I, Scene 1
2. Accompagnato, Nitocris: "Vain, fluctuating state of human empire!"
3. Air, Nitocris: "Thou, God most high, and Thou alone"
4. Recitative, Nitocris and Daniel: "The fate of Babylon, I fear, is nigh."
5. Air, Daniel: "Lament not thus, O Queen, in vain!"
Act I, Scene 2
6. Chorus of Babylonians: "Behold, by Persia's hero made"
7. Recitative, Gobrias and Cyrus: "Well may they laugh, from meagre famine safe"
8. Accompagnato, Gobrias: "Oh, memory!"
9. Air, Gobrias: "Oppress'd with never-ceasing grief"
10. Air, Cyrus: "Dry those unavailing tears"
11. Recitative, Cyrus: "Be comforted: safe though the tyrant seem"
12. Accompagnato, Cyrus: "Methought, as on the bank of deep Euphrates"
13. Recitative, Cyrus and Gobrias: "Now tell me, Gobrias, does not this Euphrates"
14. Air, Gobrias: "Behold the monstrous human beast"
15. Recitative, Cyrus: "Can ye then think it strange, if drown'd in wine"
16. Air, Cyrus: "Great God, who, yet but darkly known"
17. Recitative, Cyrus: "My friends, be confident, and boldly enter"
18. Chorus of Persians: "All empires upon God depend"
Act I, Scene 3
19. Air, Daniel: "O sacred oracles of truth"
20. Accompagnato, Daniel: "Rejoice, my countrymen! The time draws near"
21. Air, Daniel: "Thus saith the Lord to Cyrus, his anointed"
22. Chorus of Jews: "Sing, O ye Heav'ns, for the Lord hath done it!"
Act I, Scene 4
23. Air, Belshazzar: "Let festal joy triumphant reign"
24. Recitative, Belshazzar and Nitocris: "For you my friends, the nobles of my court"
25. Air, Nitocris: "The leafy honours of the field"
26. Recitative, Belshazzar and Nitocris: "It is the custom, I may say, the law"
27. Chorus of Jews: "Recall, O king, thy rash command!"
28. Recitative, Nitocris and Belshazzar: "They tell you true; nor can you be to learn"
29. Duet, Nitocris and Belshazzar: "O dearer than my life, forbear!"
30. Chorus of Jews: "By slow degrees the wrath of God to its meridian height ascends;"

Act II

Act II, Scene 1
31. Chorus of Persians: "See, from his post Euphrates flies"
32. Recitative, Cyrus: "Ye see, my friends, a path into the city"
33. Air, Cyrus: "Amaz'd to find the foe so near"
34. Chorus of Persians: "To arms, to arms, no more delay!"
Act II, Scene 2
35. Chorus of Babylonians: "Ye tutelar gods of our empire, look down"
36. Air, Belshazzar: "Let the deep bowl thy praise confess"
37. Accompagnato, Belshazzar and Babylonians: "Where is the God of Judah's boasted pow'r?"
38. Recitative, Belshazzar: "Call all my Wise Men, Sorcerers, Chaldeans"
39. Symphony (Enter Wise Men of Babylon)
40. Recitative, Belshazzar and Wise Men: "Ye sages, welcome always to your king"
41. Chorus of Babylonians: "Oh, misery! Oh terror, hopeless grief!"
42. Recitative, Nitocris and Belshazzar: "O king, live for ever!"
43. Air, Daniel: "No, to thyself thy trifles be"
44. Accompagnato, Daniel: "Yet, to obey His dread command"
45. Recitative, Nitocris: "Oh, sentence too severe, and yet too sure"
46. Air, Nitocris: "Regard, O son, my flowing tears"
Act II, Scene 3
47. Air, Cyrus: "O God of truth, O faithful guide"
48. Recitative, Cyrus: "You, Gobrias, lead directly to the palace"
49. Chorus of Persians: "O glorious prince, thrice happy they"


Act III, Scene 1
50. Air, Nitocris: "Alternate hopes and fears distract my mind"
51. Recitative, Nitocris and Daniel: "Fain would I hope. It cannot surely be."
52. Air, Daniel: "Can the black AEthiop change his skin"
53. Recitative, Nitocris, Arioch, and Messenger: "My hopes revive, here Arioch comes!"
54. Chorus of Jews: "Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth!"
Act III, Scene 2
55. Air, Belshazzar: "I thank thee, Sesach! Thy sweet pow'r"
56. A Martial Symphony (during which a battle is supposed, in which Belshazzar and his attendants are slain)
Act III, Scene 3
57. Air, Gobrias: "To pow'r immortal my first thanks are due"
58. Recitative, Cyrus: "Be it thy care, good Gobrias, to find out"
59. Air, Cyrus: "Destructive war, thy limits know"
60. Duet, Nitocris and Cyrus: "Great victor, at your feet I bow"
61. Recitative, Cyrus and Daniel: "Say, venerable prophet, is there aught"
62. Soli & Chorus: "Tell it out among the heathen"
63. Accompagnato, Cyrus: "Yes, I will rebuild thy city, God of Israel!"
64. Soli & Chorus: I will magnify Thee, O God my king!

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Haendel 1744 - Belshazzar Oratorio - R Jacobs
René Jacobs, conductor
Bejun Mehta - Handel's Belshazzar - 3 Arias
Bejun Mehta as Cyrus. Haendel's Belshazzar by René Jacobs
Aix en Provence july 2008
Judas Maccabaeus - 1746
Judas Maccabaeus (HWV 63) is an oratorio in three acts composed in 1746 by George Frideric Handel based on a libretto written by Thomas Morell. The oratorio was devised as a compliment to the victorious Prince William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland upon his return from the Battle of Culloden (16 April 1746). Other catalogues of Handel's music have referred to the work as HG xxii; and HHA 1/24.

Morell's libretto is based on the deuterocanonical 1 Maccabees (2-8), with motives added from the Antiquitates Judaicae by Flavius Josephus.
The events depicted in the oratorio are from the period 170-160 BC when Judea was ruled by the Seleucid Empire which undertook to destroy the Jewish religion. Being ordered to worship Zeus, many Jews obeyed under the threat of persecution; however, some did not. One who defied was the elderly priest Mattathias who killed a fellow Jew who was about to offer a pagan sacrifice. After tearing down a pagan altar, Mattathias retreated to the hills and gathered others who were willing to fight for their faith.
Handel's music depicts the changing moods of the Jewish people as their fortunes vary from dejection to jubilation.

Part 1

The people mourn the death of their leader Mattathias, but his son Simon tries to restore their faith and calls them to arms (Arm, arm, ye brave). Simon's brother (Judas Maccabaeus) assumes the role of leader and inspires the people with thoughts of liberty and victory through the power of Jehovah.

Part 2

The people have been victorious, but Judas is concerned that vanity will cause the people to claim victory for themselves. When news arrives that the Seleucid commander Gorgias is preparing to enact revenge, the people's joyous mood gives way to wailing and dejection (Ah! wretched Israel!). Again Judas rallies the people (Sound an alarm) and insists that the pagan altars must be destroyed and that false religions must be resisted.

Part 3

Victory has finally been achieved for the Jewish people (See, the Conqu’ring Hero Comes!). News arrives that Rome is willing to form an alliance with Judas against the Seleucid empire. The people rejoice that peace has at last come to their country (O lovely peace).

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Georg Friedrich Handel - Judas Maccabaeus
Judas Maccabaeus. Israelite woman, Heather Harper, soprano. Israelite man, Helen Watts, contralto. Judas Maccabeaus, Alexander Young, tenor. Simon, John Shirley-Quirk, baritone. English Chamber Orchestra. Amor Artis Chorale, John McCarthy, chorus master. Wandsworth School Boys Choir, Russen Burgess, director. Johannes Somary, conductor.
Solomon - 1748
Solomon, HWV 67, is an oratorio by George Frideric Handel. Its libretto is based on the biblical stories of wise king Solomon and is attributed to Newburgh Hamilton. The music was composed between May 5 and June 13, 1748 and the first performance took place on March 17, 1749 with Caterina Galli in the title role at the Theatre Royal in London where it had two further performances, the second of which was on March 22.
The work consists of three acts preceded by an overture. The final number of Act I is the chorus “May no rash intruder”, usually called the Nightingale Chorus, with flutes imitating birdsong. Act 3 begins with the very famous Sinfonia known as "The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba".

Act 1

Scene 1: Solomon, Zadok, priests and chorus
Your harps and cymbals (chorus)
Praise ye the Lord (Levite – air)
With pious heart (chorus)
Almighty Power (Solomon – accompagnato)
Imperial Solomon (Zadok – recitative)
Sacred raptures (Zadok – air)
Throughout the land (chorus)
Bless’d be the Lord (Solomon – recitative)
What though I trace (Solomon – air)
Scene 2: To them the Queen
And see my Queen (Solomon – recitative)
Bless’d the day (Queen – air)
Thou fair inhabitant of Nile (Solomon, Queen – recitative)
Welcome as the dawn of day (Queen Solomon – duet)
Vain are the transient beauties (Solomon – recitative)
Indulge thy faith (Zadok – air)
My blooming fair (Solomon – recitative)
Haste to the cedar grove (Solomon – air)
Haste, haste to the cedar grove,
Where fragrant spices bloom,
And am'rous turtles love,
Beneath the pleasing gloom.
While tinkling down the hill,
Avoiding hateful day,
The little murm'ring rill
In whispers glides away.
When thou art absent (Queen – recitative)
With thee th’unshelter’d moor (Queen – air)
May no rash intruder ("Nightingale Chorus") (chorus)

Act 2

Scene 1: Solomon, Zadok, Levite, chorus of priests and Israelites
From the censer (chorus)
Prais’d be the Lord (Solomon – recitative)
When the sun o’er yonder hills (Solomon – air)
Great prince (Levite – recitative)
Thrice bless’d that wise discerning king (Levite – air)
Scene 2: To them an attendant
My sovereign liege (Attendant, Solomon – recitative)
Scene 3: To them the two harlots
Thou son of David (First harlot – recitative)
Words are weak (First and second harlot, Solomon – trio)
What says the other (Solomon, second harlot – recitative)
Thy sentence, great king (Second harlot – air)
Withhold, withhold the executing hand (First harlot – recitative)
Can I see my infant gor’d (First harlot – air)
Israel attend (Solomon – accompagnato)
Thrice bless’d be the king (First harlot, Solomon – duet)
From the east unto the west (chorus)
From morn to eve (Zadok – recitative)
See the tall palm (Zadok – air)
No more shall armed bands (First harlot – recitative)
Beneath the vine (First harlot – air)
Swell, swell the full chorus (chorus)

Act 3

Sinfonia ("Arrival of the Queen of Sheba")
Solomon, Queen of Sheba, Zadok, chorus of Israelites
From Arabia’s spicy shores (Queen of Sheba, Solomon – recitative)
Ev’ry sight these eyes behold (Queen of Sheba – air)
Sweep, sweep the string (Solomon – recitative)
Music spread thy voice around (Solomon and chorus)
Now a different measure (Solomon and chorus)
Then at once from rage remove (Solomon – recitative)
Draw the tear from hopeless love (chorus)
Next the tortur’d soul release (Solomon – recitative)
Thus rolling surges rise (Solomon and chorus)
Thy harmony’s divine (Queen of Sheba – recitative)
Pious king (Levite – air)
Thrice happy king (Zadok – recitative)
Golden columns (Zadok – air)
Praise the Lord (chorus)
Gold now is common (Solomon – recitative)
How green our fertile pastures look (Solomon – air)
May peace in Salem (Queen of Sheba – recitative)
Will the sun forget to streak (Queen of Sheba – air)
Adieu, fair queen (Solomon – recitative)
Ev’ry joy that wisdom knows (Queen of Sheba, Solomon – duet)
The name of the wicked (chorus)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Handel: Solomon (compleet)
Vredenburg Leidsche Rijn, Utrecht - vrijdag 23 december 2011

Radio Kamer Filharmonie
Groot Omroepkoor
Kenneth Montgomery, dirigent
Edward Caswell, koordirigent
Handel - Solomon

Solomon: Paula Murrihy, mezzosopraan
Queen / 1st Harlot: Dominique Labelle, sopraan
Queen of Sheba / 2nd Harlot: Sherezade Panthaki, sopraan
Zadok / Attendant: Thomas Cooley, tenor
Levite: Christian Immler, bas

Haendel - 1748 - Solomon Oratorio McCreesh

Handel's Fireworks Music, performed at his GRACE the Duke of RICHMOND'S at WHITEHALL and on the River Thames on Monday 15 May 1749. Performed by the direction of Charles Fredrick Esq. A hand-coloured etching.
"Music for the Royal Fireworks" - 1749
The Music for the Royal Fireworks (HWV 351) is a wind band suite composed by George Frideric Handel in 1749 under contract of George II of Great Britain for the fireworks in London's Green Park on 27 April 1749. It was to celebrate the end of the War of the Austrian Succession and the signing of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748.
The performing musicians were in a specially constructed building that had been designed by Servandoni, a theatre designer. The music provided a background for the royal fireworks that were designed by Thomas Desguliers, son of the cleric and scientist John Theophilus Desaguliers. However, the display was not as successful as the music itself: the enormous wooden building caught fire after the collapse of a bas relief of George II. However, the music had been performed publicly six days earlier, on 21 April 1749 when there was a full rehearsal of the music at Vauxhall Gardens. Over twelve thousand people, each paying 2/6, rushed for it, causing a three-hour traffic jam of carriages after the main route to the area south of the river was closed due to the collapse of the central arch of newly built London Bridge.

Music and instrumentation

Music for the Royal Fireworks opens with a French overture and includes a bourrée and two minuets.
The work is in five movements:

1. Ouverture: Adagio, Allegro, Lentement, Allegro
2. Bourrée
3. La Paix: Largo alla siciliana
4. La Réjouissance: Allegro
5. Menuets I and II

It was scored for a large wind band ensemble consisting of 24 oboes, 12 bassoons (and a contrabassoon), nine natural trumpets, nine natural horns, three pairs of kettledrums, and side drums which were given only the direction to play "ad libitum"; no side drum parts were written by Handel. Handel was specific about the numbers of instruments to each written part. In the overture there are assigned three players to each of the three trumpet parts; the 24 oboes are divided 12, 8 and 4; and the 12 bassoons are divided 8 and 4. The side drums were instructed when to play in La Réjouissance and the second Menuet, but very likely also played in the Ouverture.
After the first performance Handel re-scored the suite for full orchestra. Handel wrote notices in the score: the violins to play the oboe parts, the cellos and double basses the bassoon part, and the violas either a lower wind or bass part. The instruments from the original band instrumentation play all the movements in the revised orchestral edition except the gentle Bourrée and the first Menuet, which are played by only the oboes, bassoons, and strings alone.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

George Frideric Handel - Music for the Royal Fireworks
"Jephta" - 1751

"Jephtha's Rash Vow" (1807), by James Gundee & M. Jones, London.
Jephtha (HWV 70) is an oratorio (1751) by Handel George Frederick with a libretto by the Rev. Thomas Morell, based on the story of Jephtha in Judges (Chapter 11) and Jephthas sive votum - "Jeptha or the Vow" (1554) by George Buchanan. Whilst writing Jephtha, Handel was increasingly troubled by his gradual loss of sight, and this proved to be his last oratorio. In the autograph score, at the end of the chorus "How dark, O Lord, are thy decrees" he wrote "Reached here on 13 February 1751, unable to go on owing to weakening of the sight of my left eye."
The story revolves around Jephtha's rash promise to the Almighty that if he is victorious, he will sacrifice the first creature he meets on his return. He is met by his beloved daughter Iphis. Unlike the original Biblical story, an angel intervenes to stop the sacrifice, and Iphis only needs to dedicate her life to the Lord. In contrast, the Biblical story strongly implies that her father chose to sacrifice her, but a short reprieve is arranged, after which Iphis dutifully returns and was killed. Scholars disagree regarding whether he actually sacrificed her or if, as the oratorio relates, she was then dedicated to the Lord and required to observe a life of perpetual virginity. Regardless, however, the Bible makes no mention of an angel stopping what occurred. Staged performance of material based on biblical subjects was forbidden in Great Britain at the time the work was premiered. Handel's final masterpiece was presented at the Covent Garden on 26 February 1752, with the composer conducting, and with a cast that included two divas of the opera stage, Giulia Frasi, Handel's prima donna since 1749, and Caterina Galli. It was presented without scenery or costumes, divided into three acts.
Jephtha is principally remembered for the dramatic recitative Deeper, and deeper still, and the aria Waft her, angels, thro' the skies, one of Handel's most beautiful airs. The two passages occur separately within the oratorio, but during the 19th century these were often performed together in concert, as if the recitative directly preceded the aria.

Dramatis Personae

Jephtha (tenor)
Iphis, his Daughter (soprano)
Storgé, his Wife (mezzo-soprano)
Zebul, his Brother (bass)
Hamor, in love with Iphis (alto)
Angel (soprano)
Chorus of Israelites
Chorus of Priests
Chorus of Virgins

Georg Friedrich Händel - Jephtha, HWV 70
Jephtha Oratorio in three acts HWV 70. Jephtha, John Mark Ainsley, tenor. Zebul, Michael George, bass. Storge, Catherine Denley, mezzo-soprano. Iphis, Christiane Oelze, soprano. Hamor, Axel Köhler, counter tenor. Angel, Julia Gooding, soprano. Rias Kammerchor. Akademie Für Alte Music Berlin, Marcus Creed, conductor.
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