Background to 'Messiah'
- Composed in the summer of 1741 over 24 days. The idea of a biblical opera was more popular than an Italian opera with British audiences.
- Originally just strings and continuo, with trumpets and timpanis in more dramatic moments.
- First perfomed in Dublin in 1742. The first perfomance in England was in Covent Garden Theatre in 1743.
- Handel later added parts for oboe and bassoon that doubled existing string parts.
- In 1710 he was Kapellmeister. Due to this he was given permission to go to England for a year, where he spent the rest of his life, eventually becoming royal composer.
- Prior to Messiah he wrote Italian operas, but he changed to Oratorios when they became unpopular.
Baroqueness of 'And the Glory of the Lord'
ATGOTL is a peice written in the barqoue style, of which the features are:
- Ornamented melodic parts.
- Major/Minor keys replacing modes.
- Use of diatonic chords- I, IV, V, II and VI.
- Basso Continuo.
- Different Textures- Monophonic, Homophonic and Polyphonic.
- Previaling mood in pieces- affection.
- Terrassed dynamics- loud and soft.
- Orchestra- Strings (inluding Harpsichord), trumpets, horns and timpanis. There was some woodwind but it's prescence depended on the piece and varied.
ATGOTL is part of the oratorio Messiah. An oratorio is a large-scale biblical work. Oratorios have a specific structure:
- Recitative- concentrates on getting the words across with minimal use of music. In Messiah this prophecises the coming of the Lord.
- Aria- solo song that refelcts a mood or emotion. The music is more elaborate. Here, Messiah is uplifting and joyful.
- Chorus- sums up the action until that point. ATGOTL is a chorus and is a positive look at the coming of the Lord.
The Libretto, or the words in Messiah are in three parts:
- Part 1- propechies fortelling the coming of the Messiah.
- Part 2- passion music of Jesus' suffering and crucifixion.
- Part 3- Jesus' resurrection.
Motifs 1 and 2
Motifs 3 and 4
Description of motifs in 'And the Glory of the Lor
- First three notes are an A major triad.
- Stepwise scale ending- last three notes ascend.
- Built on two one-bar descending sequences.
- Word 'revealed' is melismatic.
- Repetitive idea with three statements of the descending fourth idea making it firm.
- Long dotted minim notes with only two low pitches.
- Part is doubled with tenor and basses to make give it a strong conviction.
Essay Points for 'And the Glory of the Lord'
Rhythm and Metre
- Sprightly 3/4 triple time.
- Intially allegro so that it is uplifting, but adagio at the end so it comes to a slow finish.
- Use of hemiolas. This is where notes are tied over bars to make 2/4 sound like 3/4.
- Four motifs are used throughout the piece repetitively.
- Mostly based around descending sequences.
- Mostly syllabic, but in places it's melismatic in the voices.
- Begins in A Major, so that the piece sounds joyful as it tells of the coming of the Lord.
- Modulates throughout: A maj- E maj- A maj- E maj- B maj- E maj.
- Finishes with a plagal (or 'amen') cadence. A plagal cadence is chords IV-I.
- Diatonic- only using seven notes of scale.
Essay points for 'And the Glory of the Lord' conti
- Mixture of polyphonic and homophonic.
- Imitation is used. Different parts imitate each other, especially the voices.
- Strings (violins 1 and 2, viola) and basso continuo (cello).
- SATB choir.
- Based on four motifs.
- No real structure.
- Intrumental introduction that is allegro, with a slow adagio finish.