Hallelujah Chorus from The Messiah (Handel)
The Hallelujah Chorus is perhaps the most famous piece of choral
music in the repertoire and one highlight among many in Handelís most popular
oratorio, The Messiah.
Handel was at a low ebb in August 1741, having recently
suffered a small stroke, but was inspired by Jennensí new libretto and is
supposed to have composed the whole of The Messiah in the incredibly
short period of 21 days.
The oratorio was first performed at Nealeís Music Hall
in Dublin on 13th April 1742, Handel leading from the harpsichord. On
Handelís return to England, King George II attended a performance and was moved
to rise to his feet on first hearing the Hallelujah Chorus, a custom
which is still in vogue today.
Handelís considered The Messiah Ďan
entertainmentí and it was nine years before it was performed in a sacred
setting. His oratorio style borrows elements from opera, cantata, concerto and
opera and it perhaps this eclecticism that make this glorious work sound as
fresh today as ever.