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Handel’s Messiah needs little introduction. It is the most celebrated of all his oratorios and no doubt tonight’s performance is just one of hundreds happening in our country during this season of Advent. Completed in just 17 days and premiered in Dublin in 1742, it was composed at a time of financial hardship for Handel. The much-travelled young George Frederick Handel first visited London aged 25 in 1710. He was presented to Queen Anne and also met musicians and concert promoters of influence. England was to soon become his home though there must have been some embarrassment and concern when, having not returned home to his post of Music Director in the court of the Elector of Hannover – the same employer who was to succeed to the English Throne! Handel became a naturalised British citizen in 1726.

His rather Italianate style of operas had enjoyed a popularity which fell from fashion and so too fell Handel’s own finances! Having written and early oratorio (Esther) he reverted back to this form and soon found it popular with English audiences. Messiah, written as a narrative, differs from his oratorios due to the fact that it has no named characters. The all-time famous Hallelujah Chorus takes us back to an early London performance which found King George II standing in awe of the music.

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