Concert Focus: Handel’s Messiah

Posted on: April 20, 2011 in: Concert Focus

This Good Friday we’re helping the Huddersfield Choral Society celebrate their 175th anniversary with a modern interpretation of Handel’s masterpiece, Messiah.


We thought we’d look in a little more detail at how this great classical masterpiece was put together.


George Frideric Handel composed this most enduring work in London during the summer of 1741. It is often said that he wrote this piece with great speed, completing it in the space of roughly 3 weeks! Whether this is true or not, the resulting work; and in particular the Hallelujlah Chorus, has become one of the most popular and recognisable in Western classical music, and remains so today – people still often stand up during the Hallelujah Chorus!


Messiah is, essentially, a piece of scriptural music that can be appreciated on many different levels both within and outside of the religious world.  An oratorio in 3 Acts, the libretto for Messiah was carefully selected from the Old and New Testaments by Charles Jennens, a literary scholar and editor of the plays of Shakespeare. Rather than debut the work in London, Handel was invited to give the premiere in Dublin which he did on 13 April, 1742.


Throughout the rest of his life Handel made many revisions to his Messiah and even after his death in 1759, other composers – Mozart in particular – continued to do so, adding instrumentation and revising sections as they saw appropriate. In the quest for authenticity this inevitably raises questions over which version of Messiah should be performed at any given time?


In spite of this one thing is certain – Messiah is an iconic composition by a toweringly popular composer, and it’s hard to imagine its presence ever waning. It also just happens to be the signature piece of the Huddersfield Choral Society too!


Don’t miss out on the last remaining tickets for the concert which can be purchased from the Barbican Box Office.


Handel Messiah

22 April 2011, 6pm

Barbican Hall

City of London Sinfonia

Huddersfield Choral Society

Joseph Cullen
Elizabeth Watts soprano
Dame Felicity Palmer mezzo-soprano
Mark Le Brocq tenor
Christopher Purves bass-baritone