This concert is presented in association with The Bronx Tourism Council and the NYC & Company Foundation.
A TASTE OF THE BRONX
FOOD SHOW AND TASTINGS
A Bronx Tradition…
Celebrating its Fourth Anniversary!
When you purchase a ticket to Handel's Messiah, you are admitted FREE!
About Handel’s Messiah
George Frideric Handel was born on February 23, 1685 in Halle, Germany, the son of a district surgeon and barber. He studied music and the law but soon abandoned the latter, eventually taking a position as a court composer for the Elector of Hanover. He visited London for the first time in 1710 and, after returning to the British capital two years later, made that city his home for the remaining decades of his life.
Handel began composing Messiah in London on Saturday, August 22, 1741. He completed the first part on Friday, the 28th, the second part on Sunday, September 6th and the entire work on Saturday, September 12th. The oratorio is in three sections, the first detailing the Prophecy of God, the second giving the Christmas message and the final one describing the triumph of Christ. We will present major portions of each part this afternoon. Their texts, selected from Biblical sources by the composer’s friend, Charles Jennens (1700-1773), will be read today by members of the Bronx community prior to our performances of Handel’s musical settings of them.
Messiah was first performed before an audience of 700 in Dublin, Ireland, on April 13, 1742 under the direction of the composer. It is scored very modestly for strings and keyboard continuo with oboes and a bassoon doubling. Trumpets and timpani are used occasionally.
Later musicians, including Mozart, have added additional instruments to the accompaniment but,
as Beethoven remarked, “it would have lived without them.” We will present the oratorio in its original orchestration today and utilize a chorus of approximately the same size as the one the composer first employed.
After its Dublin premiere, Messiah was performed in London on three occasions in March, 1743, under the composer’s direction. At the first of these, on March 23rd, King George II attended and began the now familiar tradition of standing during the Hallelujah Chorus when he spontaneously rose from his seat as that great chorus was being sung. Handel continued to present performances of Messiah in London, often in slightly different versions, for the next sixteen years. He conducted it for the last time at the Covent Garden Theatre on April 6, 1759, eight days before his death. His funeral in Westminster Abbey attracted 3000 mourners on the evening of April 20th and he is buried in that great British landmark as a beloved son of his adopted country.
Messiah has never left the repertoire since the death of its composer and remains to this day as one of the most extraordinary works in the history of western music. It is often given as a celebration of the Christmas season but its inspiration, power and uplifting message make it appropriate to be heard and enjoyed in any season.
By Michael Spierman