Thursday, April 02, 2009

Handel's Messiah

 
One year Ms. Sandwalk took the entire family to see a full performance of Handel's Messiah. It was agony, except for one brief part of the performance where we all got to stand up. Ms. Sandwalk thought it was wonderful but, remember, she also likes some country music.

My children still talk about it. I guess it's one of those "experiences" that contribute to character building, or something.

Now there's an explanation in New Scientist: How misery inspired Handel's Messiah. I knew there had to be a reason.


19 comments :

  1. I hate to break it to you but a lot of modern theatres don't allow the standing up during the Hallelujah Chorus anymore since they find it too distracting during the performance. I rather like parts of Handel's Messiah but I don't think I could sit through the whole thing either these days.

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  2. I've gotta say that, atheist though I am, I still think the Hallelujah Chorus is one of the most inspired--and inspiring--pieces of music ever written. I just attribute that to Handel's genius rather than to any divine afflatus.

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  3. Larry,

    Chuck Berry got it right with "Roll over Beethoven"

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  4. It's more fun to be in the choir singing, I assure you. Especially during the last 'Amen' chorus, when you hit that moment right before the final chord with over 100 voices singing, and there is that one moment of perfect silence...

    Moments like that are what I live for. But, I'm a classical music snob, so just ignore me.

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  5. I've gotta say that, atheist though I am, I still think the Hallelujah Chorus is one of the most inspired--and inspiring--pieces of music ever written. I just attribute that to Handel's genius rather than to any divine afflatus.

    It reminds me of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat". You know, when it's sung as a round. And he shall row, and he shall row...

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  6. You don't need to be religious in order to enjoy the Hallelujah chorus. It's amazing in my opinion (although played so many times as to become a little old)

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  7. De gustibus non est disputandum. It's not character building, you've just got narrow taste in music. Which is fine as long as you didn't fidget during the show.

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  8. I played the cello for 10 years, when I was younger. I didnt mind 'Messiah', but 'Pachelbels Canon' sends me into a murderous rage...

    I would suggest never asking a cellist to play that song... just a heads up...

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  9. I don't know, 386sx. I can't get excited about "Row, Row, Row Your Boat." But I'm kinda lowbrow sometimes.

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  10. That's okay mikespeir, I didn't mean to impugn either one. Just sayin.

    I'd rather hear this though cuz I'm on a Green Day kick lately for some reason. Shrug.

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  11. I enjoy listening to the Hallelujah chorus and I've enjoyed singing it in a choir.

    That's not the same as sitting through the entire Messiah.

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  12. Spiney Norman says,

    ... you've just got narrow taste in music

    Here's the first bit of Handel's Messiah. Each phrase is repeated several times.

    -------------------------
    RECITATIVE. (Accompanied - Tenor) Comfort ye, comfort ye My people, saith your God; speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem; and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness:-Prepare ye the way of the Lord: make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

    AIR (Tenor)
    Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill made low, the crooked straight and the rough places plain.

    CHORUS And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together;for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

    RECITATIVE. (Accompanied - Bass)
    Thus saith the Lord of Hosts:-Yet once a little while and I will shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land; and
    I will shake all nations; and the desire of all nations shall come. The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, He shall come, saith the Lord of Hosts.

    AIR (Bass) But who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He
    appeareth? For He is like a refiner's fire.
    ------------------------

    I'm sorry but those words don't speak to me at all. I'd much rather listen to Rodgers and Hammerstein or Gilbert and Sullivan.

    If that means I have a narrow taste in music then so be it.

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  13. 1. Perhaps Prof. Moran would prefer one of Handels' secular oratorios, "Alexanders' Feast," the text of which consists of a poem of the same name by English poet John Dryden.

    2. There is a quotation from Ludwig van Beethoven proclaiming that Handel was the greatest composer who ever lived. Interesting considering that most musicologists would place Beethoven in that role, just as most historians would state that Issac Newton was the greatest scientist who ever lived.

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  14. The music was never the problem - the problem was that to see Handel's Messiah you had to sit in a hard, uncomfortable church pew for over 2 hours! And when you're 15 years old, sitting beside a 14-year-old brother, it's inevitable that after 15 minutes you're going to start playing the "how hard can I pinch you before you make enough noise to make mom angry" game.

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  15. You don't need to be religious in order to enjoy the Hallelujah chorus.

    No more than you have to believe in the Loch Ness Monster to enjoy Synchronicity II, anyway.

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  16. My dear family,

    Sadly, you have all totally missed the beauty of this performance.

    Tafelmusik is Canada’s award-winning baroque orchestra using "period instruments",(read prior to valves on wind instruments).

    Clearly this magnificent performance left an indelible
    "mark" on you that you are still complaining some 17 years later!

    I'm always happy to drag scientists kicking and screaming to cultural events, as well as broadening their scope of music.

    Ask the Professor who "Usher" is :)

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  17. I'm with the others here who are unimpressed by Handel. Having sung it and many, many other pieces I have to say I don't see what all of the fuss is about. Fauré's Requiem, Chichester Psalms, Ode to Joy: all great, and at least somewhat religious. Handel bludgeons you with words and the music isn't too terribly interesting, but it's a stable around christmastime. I imagine it'd be much less so if lots of people didn't agree with the lyrics, which doesn't make for a good piece of music but. Just a popular one.

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  18. There is a quotation from Ludwig van Beethoven proclaiming that Handel was the greatest composer who ever lived.

    Fur Elise would probably be my favorite song in the world if it didn't have that one weird part in the middle that kinda ruins the whole thing. What can I say!

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  19. Regarding ERV's comment about playing the cello, I played cello in jr high and high school. After a few graduation ceremonies, a cellist soon comes to the conclusion that Edward Elgar wrote his gorgeous Cello Concerto to make up for the awful cello part in "Pomp and Circumstance".

    Dave Wisker

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