How misery inspired Handel's Messiah

时间:2019-03-01 08:19:06166网络整理admin

By Stephanie Pain The year 1737 marked a turning point for England’s most celebrated composer. George Frideric Handel had been entertaining London society with his Italian operas since 1720. Each season he staged several, for which he wrote the music, hired the singers and directed 50 or more performances. Then he abandoned opera and wrote the type of music he is best remembered for, his English oratorios. Handel’s operas had been peopled by gods and heroes, played by strutting superstar singers. Now his themes tended towards the tragic, his characters mere mortals and his music more personal. What prompted the change? Ill health, says Handel authority David Hunter. “THE ingenious Mr. Handell is very much indispos’d and it’s thought with a Paraletick Disorder, he having at present no Use of his Right Hand, which, if he don’t regain, the Publick will be depriv’d of his fine Compositions.” As the London Evening Post reported in May 1737, George Frideric Handel, composer to kings and perennial favourite of opera-going London society, had been struck down by a palsy that threatened to cut short his glittering career. Handel recovered but his next 20 years were dogged by ill health and repeated attacks of the “Paraletick Disorder”. They were also the years in which he composed some of his greatest works. For the first 50 years of his life, Handel seems to have been untroubled by illness. Even in middle age, and decidedly overweight, he had the stamina to stage several operas a year, a workload that would have defeated many younger,