Baroque composer George or rather Georg Friedrich Handel was born on February 23, 1685 and died on April 14, 1759. He was renown for his operas, oratorios, anthems, and organ concertos. Although of German birth, he became a naturalized British subject on 1727. He was deeply influenced by the Italian Baroque and the middle German polyphonic chorale traditions. He is buried in Westminster Abbey.
Among his most popular works is that of Messiah. This work is Handel’s sixth such English language oratorio and was composed in 1741. It was first performed in Dublin on April 13, 1742. It remains one of he best known and most often performed choral works in Western canon.
Although structured much like an opera, instead of a dramatic form with impersonation of characters and direct speech, we find an extended reflection on Jesus as Messiah. Part I imparts prophecies by Isaiah and others and moves to the annunciation of the shepherds. This is the only scene taken from the Gospels. In Part II, the Passion is concentrated on which culminates in the Hallelujah Chorus. Part III focuses on the resurrection of the dead and Christ’s glory in Heaven.
This oratorio as performed by the Gabrieli Consort and conducted by Paul McCreesh may be heard in its entirety here: