Handel - 'And the Glory of the Lord'

These cards cover the baroque era and set work 1 for Edexcel music GCSE

  • Created by: Nisha~
  • Created on: 28-10-13 20:07

The Baroque Era

This period in history witnessed a new exploration of ideas and innovations in:

  • the arts
  • literature
  • philosophy

The word Baroque is Portugese for 'pearl' and referenced to:

  • furniture
  • paintings
  • frescoes
  • designs

One particular aspect of this style that made its way into the music was the emphasis on an ornamented or 'decorative' melody line

The well known composers of the Baroque period were Johann Sebastian Bach, George Friederic Handel, Henry Purcell and Antonio Vivaldi. George Frideric Handel is the composer on this set work.

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George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)

Key Facts about Handel

  • Born in Germany in 1685
  • Devoted his life to music from the age of 18
  • In 1707 Handel's first serious opera (Rodrigo) was performed
  • In 1710 after being appointed Kappelmeister in Hanover he spent the rest of his life in England
  • During this time he worte some of his finest instrumental works especially the overtures and concertini grossi
  • His Water music was written when the Elector of Hanover succede the throne
  • He died in 1759 and was buried in Westminister Abbey
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Features of the Baroque Style of Music

  • The use of ornamented melodic parts
  • The establishment of the major/minor key system, replacing the old system of modes
  • The use of the diatonic chords of I, IV, V, II and VI
  • 'basso continuo' (literally continuous bass). The adoption of the ever constant keyboard support with the bassline usually played by the cello
  • Different musical textures, such as monophonichomophonic and polyphonic
  • The use of the Baroque orchestra, based on the newly invented members of the string family with the harpsichord supplying the harmonies
  • Trumpets, horns and timpani drums were used. However, the use of woodwind instruments at this time was not standard and varied from piece to piece
  • The prevalence of one 'affection' or mood
  • The contrasting of dynamics on two levels - loud and soft (called terrassed dynamics)
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Oratorio & Messiah

  • An oratorio is a musical work based on words and stories from the bible
  • It developed around the same time as the opera
  • The works were made of operatic forms such as recitative, aria and chorus acted out with scenery and full chostume dress
  • The difference between the opera and an oratario was that the oratario only used texts from the bible
  • By Handel's time the 'acting' element of the oratario had ceased


Messiah is one of the most well known of all the oratario. The liberetto is in three main parts telling the story of the birth, death and ressurection of Christ:

  • Part 1- Prophecies foretelling the annunciation with texts from the old testament
  • Part 2- Passion music of the suffering and crucifixtion of Jesus
  • Part 3- Jesus' resurrection
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Structure of the orotorio in Messiah

The oratorio closely follows the forms of Italian Opera through the use of recitatives, arias and choruses.

'And the Glory of the Lord' is the fourth movement of the whole workand is the first chorus with a part for soprano, alto, tenor, bass choir and orchestral accompaniement

  • Recitative- Words with minimal use of music
  • Aria- Solo song which reflects on a mood or emotion
  • Chorus
    • Aria leads into directly
    • Sums up the action of the story
    • Powerful and contribute to the drama of the story
    • Text sums up the mood
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Background to the Messiah

  • Handel had written many Italian operas, but they were  unpopular, however sacred opera had proved to be a popular substitute
  • The oratorios were produced instead of the operas as the church forbade biblical stories to be acted out
  • Handel composed this oratorio in 1741
  • It was performed in Dublin in 1742
  • First performance in Covent Garden Theatre 1743
  • Handel went on to add the Oboes and bassoon as it was a bit BORING in the hallelujah chorus part
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Key Idea 1: 'And the Glory of the Lord'


  • The first three notes outline a traid
  • Stepwise scale ending
  • Setting of words is mainly syllabic (one note per syllable
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Key Idea 2: 'Shall be revealed'


  • The idea is built up from two one-bar descending sequences and is melismatic (several notes to a syllable) setting of the word revealed
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Key Idea 3: 'And all flesh shall see it together'


  • Repetitive idea consisting of three statements of the descending fourth idea
  • It gives the impression of a firm statement because it is repeated in this way
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Key Idea 4: 'For the mouth of the Lord has spoken


  • Characterised by long (dotted minum) repeated notes
  • They emphasise conviction
  • Strength is achieved in the part with two parts singing the line
  • These ideas are contrasted so when they are combined they can each be heard
  • The whole movement conveys joyful words through the sprightly triple time metre
  • The key is A major with modulations to the dominant key of E major and dominant of the dominant key of B major
  • Minor keys are avoided
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