Handel PowerPoint

George Friderick Handel
(1685-1759) Germany
• Age of 18 devoted life to music
• First serious Opera – Rodrigo performed in 1707
• Appointed Kapellmeister (director of music for the
monarch or nobleman) to the Elector of Hanover in 1710
• Permission to take year’s leave in London. Remained in
England for the rest of his life
• Wrote many instrumental works – Overtures, Concerti
• Became Royal Court composer to George 1 of England
Wrote the Water Music for the king’s triumphant
procession up the River Thames
• Buried in Westminster Abbey
• A musical work based on words or stories (libretto)
from the Bible
• Name taken from St Philip Neri’s oratory or ‘Hall of
Prayer’ situated in Rome
• Designed for concert hall performance
• Used Operatic form – Recitative, Aria and Chorus
• Famous Handel Oratorios include:
Judas Maccabeus, Samson, Solomon, Saul, Israel in
Egypt and the Messiah
• Recitative – a style used in operas, oratorios and
cantatas (part of church service for choir and soloists) in which
the text is told (declaimed) in the rhythm of natural
speech. It sounds half sung / half spoken. The
accompaniment (backing) is very minimal. It sets the
• Aria – a solo vocal piece with instrumental
accompaniment (backing) – Reflects mood or emotion
and is elaborate to show the singers expertise in full
• Chorus – the whole choir sings summing up the action
of the story. They can sound very powerful
Background to Messiah
Italian operas were becoming unpopular in London
A sacred opera written in English more popular
Written for concert performance
1741, Handel writes the Messiah
First performed in Dublin in 1742
First English performance at Covent Garden in 1743 – (did
not make a good impression with the London Audience!!)
• Original accompaniment (strings, continuo (trumpets and
timpani used in several of the uplifting movements)
• Handel went on to add parts for oboes and bassoon to
double the string parts and in places the voice parts
Structure of the Oratorio in Messiah
• ‘And the Glory of the Lord’ is the 4th movement
of the work
• It is the first chorus of the work
• Scored (written) for SATB (Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Bass)
• Orchestral accompaniment (backing)
• It follows the opening instrumental overture,
then two solo items –
• a Tenor recitative ‘Comfort ye my people’
and a Tenor aria ‘Ev’ry valley’
Musical Ideas
There are 4 main ideas in this chorus
• All four of these ideas are contrasted (made to sound
• Each phrase (melody) has its own character and shape
• The whole movement matches the joyful words through
time signature and Allegro tempo marking
• The key signature is in A major
• Modulates to the dominant – E major
• And then the dominant of the dominant – B major
• Minor keys are avoided to match the joyful words
Musical Ideas
• Idea 1: ‘And the glory of the Lord’
Characteristic features:
• The first three notes outline a triad (A major)
• The melody ends in a scalic stepwise movement
• The setting if the words are mainly syllabic (one note per syllable)
• Idea 2: ‘Shall be revealed’
Characteristic features:
• Two one bar descending sequences
• The setting if the words are mainly melismatic (several notes to a syllable e.g.
• Idea 3: ‘And all flesh shall see it together’
Characteristic features:
• A repetitive idea based on three statements of the descending fourth
• The repetition gives the impression of a firm statement
• Idea 4: ‘For the mouth of the Lord has spoken it’
Characteristic features:
• Long dotted minim repeated notes
• Used to emphasis conviction
• Tenors and basses double together
1 - 11
Keys Used
• Orchestral introduction in which the first two melodic ideas are
stated. The lively triple time dance tempo gives the feeling of one
in a bar. There are several features to note in the introduction:
 examples of a one-bar descending sequence at bars 5-6 (top
part) and 7-8 (middle part).
 hemiola rhythms at bars 9-10. This was a very common
practice at the approach to a cadence as is the case here.
 suspensions at bars 9-10.
• The introduction ends with a perfect cadence (chord V followed
by chord I) in the tonic key of A major at bars 10-11. The harmonic
rhythm (that is how many times the chords change per bar) is
either one chord per bar (e.g. bars 1, 4, 6 etc) or 2+1 (e.g. bar 2
beats 1 and 2 are E major (chord 5), then beat 3 is A major (chord
1)). This is the basic pattern, but occasionally we have three chords
per bar, e.g. bar 3 (D/B minor/E).
• Note that, in terms of the role and function of the orchestral
accompaniment throughout the whole extract, the instruments
double the voice parts. The music throughout the extract too is
driven on through regular on-beat crotchet rhythms. Just look at
the bass line!
A major
(tonic key)
(beat 1)
Alto entry with melody 1 (mf). The setting of these words is
syllabic (one note per syllable).
Perfect cadence in A major at bars 13 (beat 3}-14 (beat 1).
Keys Used
A Major
14 - 17
Keys Used
• Forte chordal response by the sopranos, tenors and
A Major
• Texture is homophonic and the melody (bars 11-14) is now
heard in the bass part.
• It is often the case that the bass has the melody in the
chordal (homophonic) sections.
• Perfect cadence at bars 16 (beat 3)-17 (beat 1) Vb-l.
17 – 22
(beat 1)
• Imitative entries of melody 2 stated first by the
tenor (bar 17), then bass (bar 19) and then soprano
(bar 20). This musical idea is built on two one-bar
descending sequences on the word 'revealed'.
Keys Used
A major
modulating at
bars 21-22 to E
major using chords
Vb-l (dominant)
22 (beat
2) – 33
(beat 1)
• At this point the first idea 'and the glory1 is combined
with the second idea 'shall be revealed'.
• The tenor (bar 22) and soprano (bar 25) have the first
idea (an octave apart) and the alto (bar 25) and tenor
(bar 28) have the second idea. The result is one of twopart counterpoint (i.e. tune against tune).
• Handel is clever to contrast the vocal textures so that
we have variety, e.g. lower two parts (bass and tenor)
at bars 22-25, then top parts (soprano and alto) at bars
25-28 followed by middle (alto and tenor) parts at bars
28-31. To the ear, this provides interest and is a feature
of the whole movement.
Keys Used
E major
Several perfect
cadences in the
dominant key
in this section
(e.g. bars 24
(beat 3)-25
(beat 1), bars
27 (beat 3)-28
(beat 1) and
bars 32 (beat
3)-33 beat 1).
33 (beat • Strong, four-part homophonic rendition of idea 1 in E
2) - 38
• Notice that the melody again appears in the bass part
and that 'shall be revealed' is tagged on to the end.
Keys Used
E major
38 – 43
(beat 1)
Keys Used
• Orchestral link using idea 2 'shall be revealed'.
• Features include sequences (bars 38-39), hemiola
rhythms (bars 41-42) and a suspension (bar 42). These
features were also found in the opening introduction.
E major ends
with a perfect
cadence at bars
42 - 43
Keys Used
43 (beat • Idea 3 'and all flesh shall see it together". As at bar 11,
A major
2) - 50
Handel gives the alto the first statement, followed by the
tenor at bars 47-50.
• Notice again that the texture now is contrasted with just
one line at a time - i.e. a thin vocal texture compared to the
four-part homophonic sections.
• At the start of this section we move straight back to A
• Look at the strong crotchet E-C#-A bass of the
accompaniment at bars 43-45.
• A major is confirmed by the perfect cadence in this key at
bars 46-47.
51 - 57
Keys Used
• The tenor and bass parts introduce idea 4 'for the
A major
mouth...'. These strong dotted minims add weight and
gravitas to the statement.
• These repeated notes also act as a pedal (in this case, a
tonic pedal) as it is the note A (the tonic note!).
• This two-part texture becomes four part as above this,
at bars 53-57, the sopranos and altos sing idea 3 'and all
flesh' in sixths (to start with).
• A perfect cadence (V7c-l) ends this section.
• Notice the suspension between the alto and bass at
bar 56. This is a 7-6 suspension as the interval (the
distance between two notes) from the bass B to alto A is
a seventh. This resolves to a G# (sixth on the second beat
of bar 56).
s and
58 - 73
• Sopranos launch off with idea 4 'for the mouth...' on the
note E, which is a dominant pedal (an inverted pedal, so
called as it is at the top of the musical texture).
• Alto, tenor and bass come in at bar 59 with idea 3. This
small section ends with a plagal cadence (chord IV
followed by chord I) at bar 63. We then have imitative
entries in the order alto, tenor, alto during which time the
music modulates to E major (see the D# in the tenor part
at bar 65 beat 1) then to B major at bar 68 (see the A# last
beat of bar 67 in the alto).
• The strong Bs of the tenors and bass at bar 68 with idea
4 are joined with idea 3 in the sopranos and altos one bar
later. As before (bar 53 onwards) these top parts are in
sixths. This short section ends with a perfect cadence in B
major (V7c-l).
Keys Used
A major
modulating to
E major
(dominant) at
bars 66-67
and swiftly
then to B
(dominant of
dominant) at
bars 67-68
74 – 83
(beat 2)
• A short orchestral link based on idea 1 takes us to a fourpart homophonic rendition of idea 1 in B major.
• Note again, the original melody in the bass part. This is
then followed by idea 3, this time arranged in a new
texture, i.e. alto/ tenor together joined a bar's length later
by soprano/bass.
• However, fittingly all parts come together in strong
homophony on the word 'together' ! This is merely a pause
for breath as the cadence at bars 82-83 is imperfect (it ends
on chord V, which sounds incomplete) and momentum is
carried on immediately with the sopranos.
Keys Used
B major
and timing
83 (beat 3) –
102 (beat 1)
• The section dovetailing with the last hears the sopranos sing idea
4 on top F#. Notice how each time this idea comes back the pitch is
higher. The first time was on A, then E in the soprano and now F#.
• Over the next dozen bars, Handel brings all four musical ideas
• At bar 84, the altos sing the first idea 'and the glory' followed by
the second idea 'shall be revealed'.
• There is a sense of descending pitch achieved at bars 87-91, as
first the alto, then the tenor and finally the bass sing short
• Notice how idea 3 is shortened to one bar at bars 89-92. The
feeling of a breaking down of texture is short lived as Handel brings
all four voices in at 93-4.
• From this point (bars 93-102) Handel uses ideas 1, 2 and 4 in
different parts. The sopranos and altos sing idea 4 (starting at bars
93 and 96 respectively) whilst the tenor and bass have ideas 1 and
2 'and the glory', 'shall be revealed'.
• During this section the music modulates back to the dominant
key of E major (bars 93-94 is a perfect cadence in E major). The
section ends with another perfect cadence in E major (bars 101102), at which point we return straightaway to the tonic key of A
major and the music stays in this key until the end of the
Keys Used
B major until bar
94 where the
music returns to
E major
(beat 2)
– 124
(beat 1)
Keys Used
• Altos lead with idea 3, although this is fragmented to
A major
one bar echoes in the tenor and bass parts of 'and all
flesh'. This is to reduce texture down to the minimum
(albeit briefly) before the final section starts.
• Parts are added quickly at bars 105-106 reaffirming the
words 'shall see it together'.
Over this the sopranos launch off with idea 1, reaching the
climax of the movement on the top A at bar 110 on the
word 'Lord'.
• This is answered by the three lower parts, again with the
bass assigned the tune!
• Imitative entries follow in the alto, tenor and bass parts.
• At bars 118 (alto), 119 (soprano) and 119 (tenor) idea 3 is
heard. This is underpinned with idea 4 in the basses on the
note E (dominant pedal).
• The section ends with an imperfect cadence (I-V) at bars
(beat 2)
– 134
(beat 2)
• The last section starts with the sopranos again on the note
taking over idea 4 from the basses.
• The other parts answer 'for the mouth of the Lord hath
spoken it'.
• Again, insisting to the end, we hear another statement of
idea 4 this time firmly on the tonic note (A).
• This section i.e. bars 129-134 has already been heard at
bars 51-55, except that the sopranos/altos and tenors/basses
have swapped parts on this repeat. This is known as
invertible counterpoint.
• The three accompanying parts march onwards with 'for the
mouth...' etc before coming to a dramatic and sudden halt at
bar 133. This is particularly effective and is something Handel
often does just before the last few bars of a chorus (another
good example like this can be found at the end of the
'Hallelujah' chorus).
Keys Used
A major
(beat 3)
- 138
• A dramatic three-beat rest in all four voice parts leads to
the final grand (and slow 'Adagio') plagal cadence in
glorious four-part homophony adding emphasis to the
final words 'hath spoken it'.
Keys Used
A major
Summary of choral styles
Choral Style
Bars 11-13
Bars 33 (beat 3) – 38
Simple imitation (polyphonic)
Bars 17 (beat 3) onwards
Two ideas coming together
Bars 110 – 113
Doubling of parts
Bars 51 onwards ‘for the
cadence two chords at the end of a musical phrase. There are four
main types of cadence: perfect, imperfect, interrupted and plagal
harmonic rhythm the number of times the chords change per bar
hemiola in triple time, this is a harmonic device often used
towards a cadence point, in which notes are grouped in two beat
units, e.g.
homophonic common musical texture comprising a melody part
and accompaniment
imitative literally separate parts copying or imitating each other. If
the imitation is note for note the same, this will then be a canon
modulating when the music changes key
pedal a sustained note usually in the lowest bass part. In the
middle of a musical texture it is called an inner pedal and if at the
top, an inverted pedal
perfect cadence chord V followed by chord I pitch how high or
low a note sounds plagal cadence chord IV followed by chord I
tonic the first degree of a scale, the keynote, e.g. in C major the
note C is the tonic note
Vb dominant chord (V) in first inversion (b)
V7c dominant 7th chord (V7) in second inversion (c)
Diatonic – notes or chords belonging to the key
Affection – mood of the music
Text taken from Edexcel GCSE Music – John Arkell, Jonny Martin Pearson Education Ltd. 2009

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