Edexcel GCSE Music- Overview of Handel piece

An overview of the whole topic and composer

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  • Created on: 19-06-11 17:13
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G.F Handel: Chorus: `And the glory of the Lord' from the
oratorio Messiah (1742)
The Baroque era (c.1600-1750)
The baroque period was known for its new exploration of ideas and innovations in the arts,
literature and philosophy. Italy was at the centre of this.
One prominent feature in the baroque period was the use of ornamentation and decorations on
the melody line.
The most well-known composers of the time:
J.S Bach, George (1685-1750)
Frideric Handel (1685-1759)
Henry Purcell (1659-95)
Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)
George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)
He was born in Germany and from the age of 18 devoted his life to music .His first serious opera
`Rodrigo' was performed in 1707.He returned to Hanover in 1710 where e was appointed
Kapellmeister to the elector.
He was allowed to visit London for a year but decided to stay permanently. In England he was
employed by the alter king George 1, Handel eventually became his Royal composer. He died n
1759 and towards the end his sight failed him.
Features of the Baroque Period
The use of ornamented melodic parts
Establishment of major and minor key system which replaced the modes
Use of diatonic chords(notes belonging to certain keys)
Basso continuo- played by keyboard instrument (harpsichord or organ) playing a chordal
support with a bass line usually played by the cello.
Different musical textures: homophonic, polyphonic and monophonic.
Use of baroque orchestra: newly invented string family with harpsichord providing
harmonies. Trumpets, horns and timpani drums were used. Woodwind was very
Dominance of one `affection' or mood in a piece.
Terrassed dynamics (contrasting dynamics on two levels, loud and soft)
What is an oratorio?
It is a musical work based on words and stories from the bible; this is the key difference
between oratorio and opera. These works were made from essentially operatic forms such as
recitative, aria and chorus and acted out with scenery and costume dress.

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Messiah is one of the most well known oratorios. The libretto (words/text of a musical work) is
in three main pars telling the story of the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus.
Part 1: consists of prophecies foretelling of arrival of Messiah, it includes texts taken from
Old Testament and the story of his birth from the New Testament.
Part2: Passsion music of the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus with words mainly set to
the Old Testament.…read more

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Handel wrote this oratorio in the summer of 1941 in 24 days! It was first performed in Dublin in
1942 and later in London in 1943-the London audience didn't particularly like the piece.
The piece was meant to be performed in a concert hall despite it being a biblical piece. Handel
went on to add parts for oboes and bassoons who double existing string parts and in some places
the voices.…read more


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