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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
07:59 - Scene i (Nos. 1 - 5) / How excellent Thy name, o
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
43:59 - Scene iv (Nos. 27 - 30) / Imprudent women!
49:45 - Scene v (Nos. 31 - 37) / Racked with infernal pains
1:01:51 - Scene vi (Nos. 38 - 41) / O filial piety!
1:08:26 - Scene i (No. 42) / Envy, Eldest born of hell!
1:11:16 - Scene ii (Nos. 43 - 47) / Ah! dearest friend
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
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
1:36:56 - Scene vii (Nos. 61 - 62) / Whom dost thou seek [Michal,
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
1:44:23 - Scene x (Nos. 67 - 68) / Where is the son of
Jesse? [Saul, Jonathan]
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?
2:02:17 - No. 77: March (Grave)
2:05:21 - Scene v (Nos. 78 - 86) / Mourn, Israel [Chorus]
Michal (soprano) - Rosemary
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
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
The Israelites Mourn, from a 1728 illustrated Bible
The Israelites mourn the death of Joseph, Israelite and
favoured adviser to Pharaoh, King of Egypt.
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.
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.
HANDEL - ISRAEL IN
EGYPT ( Part One ) - WALTER GOEHR
ISRAEL IN EGYPT ( 1ère partie )
Elsie Morrison - Marjorie Thomas - Richard Lewis - Donald
Lea - Stanley Riley
The Handel Society Choir
The Handel Society Orchestra
Direction WALTER GOEHR
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
Part Two: MOSES' SONG
1. Introitus (chorus): Moses and the children of Israel
2. Duet (sop I & II): The Lord is my strength and my song
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
Singers : Judith Nelson, Emma Kirby, Carolyn Watkinson, Paul
Elliot, David Thomas
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
17.Chorus: All we like sheep have gone astray 1:09:21
18.Chorus: He trusted in God 1:13:54
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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 |
Susan Gritton: Dalila
• Iestyn Davies: Micah
• Mark Padmore: Samson
• Neal Davies: Manoa
• Christopher Purves: Harapha
• Lucy Crowe: Israelite woman / Philsitine woman /
• Ben Johnson: Israelite man / Philistine man /
The English Concert & The New Company
Conducted by Harry Bicket
A concert recording according to the traditions
of the time
from the church of the UNESCO World Heritage
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
(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
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.
Belshazzar, King of
Nitocris, mother of Belshazzar (soprano)
Cyrus, Prince of Persia (contralto)
Daniel, a Jewish prophet (contralto)
Gobrias, an Assyrian Nobleman, revolted to Cyrus
Arioch, a Babylonian Lord (tenor)
Chorus of Wise Men
Chorus of Jews
Chorus of Babylonians
Chorus of Medes and Persians
List of movements in Belshazzar
Act I, Scene 1
2. Accompagnato, Nitocris: "Vain, fluctuating state
of human empire!"
3. Air, Nitocris: "Thou, God most high, and Thou
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
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
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
17. Recitative, Cyrus: "My friends, be confident,
and boldly enter"
18. Chorus of Persians: "All empires upon God
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
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
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
28. Recitative, Nitocris and Belshazzar: "They tell
you true; nor can you be to learn"
29. Duet, Nitocris and Belshazzar: "O dearer than my
30. Chorus of Jews: "By slow degrees the wrath of
God to its meridian height ascends;"
Act II, Scene 1
31. Chorus of Persians: "See, from his post
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
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
37. Accompagnato, Belshazzar and Babylonians: "Where
is the God of Judah's boasted pow'r?"
38. Recitative, Belshazzar: "Call all my Wise Men,
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,
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
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
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
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
56. A Martial Symphony (during which a battle is
supposed, in which Belshazzar and his attendants are
Act III, Scene 3
57. Air, Gobrias: "To pow'r immortal my first thanks
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
Handel - 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
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.
Structure 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".
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 –
Welcome as the dawn of day (Queen Solomon – duet)
Vain are the transient beauties (Solomon –
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)
Scene 1: Solomon, Zadok, Levite, chorus of priests
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 –
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 –
What says the other (Solomon, second harlot –
Thy sentence, great king (Second harlot – air)
Withhold, withhold the executing hand (First harlot
Can I see my infant gor’d (First harlot – air)
Israel attend (Solomon – accompagnato)
Thrice bless’d be the king (First harlot, Solomon –
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 –
Beneath the vine (First harlot – air)
Swell, swell the full chorus (chorus)
Sinfonia ("Arrival of the Queen of Sheba")
Solomon, Queen of Sheba, Zadok, chorus of Israelites
From Arabia’s spicy shores (Queen of Sheba, Solomon
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 –
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
The name of the wicked (chorus)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Handel: Solomon (compleet)
Vredenburg Leidsche Rijn, Utrecht - vrijdag 23
Radio Kamer Filharmonie
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,
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
"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
Music for the Royal
Fireworks opens with a French overture and includes
a bourrée and two minuets.
The work is in five movements:
Adagio, Allegro, Lentement, Allegro
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
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
"Jephta" - 1751
"Jephtha's Rash Vow" (1807), by James Gundee & M. Jones,
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
Iphis, his Daughter (soprano)
Storgé, his Wife (mezzo-soprano)
Zebul, his Brother (bass)
Hamor, in love with Iphis (alto)
Chorus of Israelites
Chorus of Priests
Chorus of Virgins
Händel - Jephtha, HWV 70
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,