Tuesday, April 14, 2009

George Friderich Handel Anniversary

On the 250th anniversary of the death of George Friderich Handel, Fishamble Street in Dublin (where the Messiah was first performed in a music hall) celebrates. This festival includes a podcast by Prof. Boydell of a walking tour around the streets and places Handel visited. The Duke of Devonshire had invited Handel to Dublin and he stayed six to eight months. In the yard of nearby Christ Church Cathedral was the music shop of the Neale brothers who built the music hall. Here's the announcement of the Messiah performance.

At last, on Thursday, April 8th, 1742, a public rehearsal of The Messiah took place, and the critics agreed that it was "the finest Composition of Musick that ever was heard." So unanimous was the approval of Handel's masterpiece that, on the announcement of the first public performance, the Stewards of the Charitable Musical Society, in view of a crowded attendance, requested the ladies to come "without hoops," and the gentlemen without their swords. The actual first performance of Handel's sublime oratorio took place on Tuesday, April 13th, at 12 noon. Neale's Music Hall was densely packed with a most enthusiastic and discriminating audience, and The Messiah "made its impression once and for ever." Handel himself forwarded to Mr. Jennens the critical observations of "the Bishop of Elphin--a Nobleman very learned in Musick" on the performance, and also a copy of the printed word-book, issued by George Faulkner, of Dublin, "price, a British six-pence."

Celebrations take place also in Halle where Handel was born. On this side of the pond, NPR has a segment. Michael White in the Telegraph demurs. Perhaps we should let Handel have the last word. Here's Ombra mai fu sung by Rolando Villazon.

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