BOOKS

TITLE: HALLELUJAH: THE STORY OF A MUSICAL GENIUS AND THE CITY THAT BROUGHT HIS MASTERPIECE TO LIFE
AUTHOR: JONATHAN BARDON
PUBLISHER: GILL & MACMILLAN
ISBN (HARDCOVER): 978-0717163540
ISBN (PAPERBACK): N/A
UPC/EAN: UNKNOWN
LCCN: UNKNOWN
YEAR: 2015
SERIES: N/A
PAGES: 256 P.
PUB. LOCATION: UNKNOWN
DDC: UNKNOWN


DESCRIPTION:  18 November, 1741. George Frideric Handel, one of the world's greatest composers, arrives in Dublin - the second city of the Empire - to prepare his masterpiece, Messiah, for its maiden performance the following spring ...Bringing to life an unforgettable cast of characters, Hallelujah provides a panoramic view of a city in flux - at once struggling to contain the chaos unleashed by the catastrophic famine of the preceding year while striving to become a vibrant centre of European culture and commerce. Brimming with drama, curiosity and intrigue, it tells of how one charitable performance wove itself into the fabric of Ireland's capital, forever changing the course of musical history and the lives of those who called the city home.

SITE RATING:  6/10
SITE REVIEW:  Belfast-based author and lecturer Jonathan Bardon has attempted to craft what is essentially a 'dual portrait' in his book, the awkwardly-titled Hallelujah: The Story of a Musical Genius and the City that Brought his Masterpiece to Life.  But how much you warm to his dense prose and juxtapositioned historical biography of the city of Dublin and the life of George Frideric Handel depends a lot upon how interested you are in Dublin history.  Certainly, the circumstances which brought Handel to Dublin to premiere his masterwork is an interested piece of the story of Messiah, and Bardon strives mightily to show that Dublin's intersection with Handel is similarly worthy of examination.  The author paints a detailed, lush portrait of Dublin during this era - a troubled, dark, desperate time following a devastating famine, which found the city looking for ways to improve its financial and cultural standing in the world.  Handel too, was in a artistic famine, having endured financial and critical lambasting in London following many years of fame and admiration.  So in one crucial way, their joining together for the premiere of Messiah was a need on both their parts - Dublin was thrilled to be hosting a world-wide celebrity in Handel, and Handel was able to "try out" his new composition away from London's acerbic press.  But the author, who has published many previous books on Ireland's history, is clearly more interested in Dublin than in Handel - he uses lush prose to describe Dublin's dire straits at the time, but gives Handel a less opulent portrait, adding little to the already well-worn narrative.  Also, it's important to note that Dublin, although the birthplace of Messiah, was hardly it's launching point - true, it was feted in the City, but the rest of the world paid scant attention to Dublin's reviews, and when Handel brought Messiah back to London, the notices there were decidedly mixed, and Handel put the oratorio away for several years.  Not until it was brought back for another charity event (the famed  Foundling Hospital concert) did its true worth begin to shine.  With its focus so clearly weighted towards Dubin's history, and with its ties to Messiah so scant, I doubt that this book will have much appeal to Handelians.

The Compleat Messiah All Content Copyright 2016 Bret D. Wheadon
All Rights Reserved.