The draft score of Handel’s oratorio ‘Messiah’ is one of the greatest musical treasures in the British Library. Handel established and developed the English oratorio as a musical genre, and ‘Messiah’ is its best known and best loved example. As only fragmentary sketches survive, this manuscript is the source for Handel’s first known ideas for the work; it also includes many of his alterations for later performances. It illuminates his working methods and includes performance directions. Its detailed dating reveals the composer’s characteristic speed of composition: the work was begun on 22 August and completed just 24 days later on 14 September, 1741.
George Frideric Handel (1685-1759) was born in Germany, but settled in England after 1713. He composed Italian operas for the London stage, and established an opera company which gave performances in the new theatre at Covent Garden. By 1737 he had established a reputation in England through his choral works, but despite aristocratic and royal patronage of his theatre works, he found it increasingly difficult to gain enough subscribers to fund a regular opera season.
This is an eBookTreasures facsimile edition, containing additional interpretative text and selected recordings from 'Messiah'.