BOOKS

TITLE: HANDEL: MESSIAH
AUTHOR: DONALD BURROWS
PUBLISHER: CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS
ISBN (HARDCOVER): 0521374790
ISBN (PAPERBACK): 0521376204
UPC/EAN: 9780521376204
LCCN: 90-2566; ML410.H13895 1991
YEAR: 1991
SERIES: CAMBRIDGE MUSIC HANDBOOKS
PAGES: 127 P.
PUB. LOCATION: LONDON, ENGLAND
DDC: 782.23092
EXCERPT: CLICK HERE FOR SAMPLE PAGE (.PDF)


DESCRIPTION:  Donald Burrows brings many new insights to this fascinating account of one of the favorite works of the concert hall. He traces the course of Messiah from Handel's initial musical response to the libretto, through the oratorio's turbulent first years to its eventual popularity with the Foundling Hospital performances. The book addresses such questions as the position of Messiah within the oratorio genre, Handel's treatment of structural design, tonal relationships in the work and problems of English wordsetting, as well as contemporary issues such as Handel's relationship with his librettist, Charles Jennens, and with his performers and audience.

SITE RATING:  10/10
SITE REVIEW:  This small, densely-written handbook, published by Cambridge University Press by author Donald Burrows, is arguably the very best to offer an in-depth examination of all the aspects of Handel's Messiah.  Burrows, a Senior Lecturer in Music at The Open University, digs very deeply into both the history and musicology of Messiah, giving over the first chapters to Handel's immersion in German and Italian musical forms, briefly examining Handel's first foray into English oratorio in Esther; then traces the path from that work to Messiah.  He touches upon Charles Jennins and his and Handel's working relationship, the Dublin premiere, the music and performers used for that first performance, and then spends a chapter examining the first London performances.  The final final four chapters penetrate deeply into the different forms Messiah took over the years, with both Handel's pen, and then through the nineteenth century to the late 1980s; with a chapter devoted to the 'design' of Messiah, placing it within the oratorio form, discussing the libretto's form and content, and its musical forms.  He spends an entire chapter dissecting individual arias and movements, and touches on the orchestra's contribution.  Finally, in the eighth and final chapter, he discusses 'word settings' within Messiah.  Throughout the book he uses period-appropriate letters and newspaper reports, and finishes off the book with lengthy appendices, noting sources both musically and for the libretto, and gives a partial bibliography.  This book is intended more for the serious musicologist, although more casual admirers will find much to enjoy within Burrows book as well - the writing style is literate, but not heavy, and while Burrows writes within a scholarly framework, he is clearly a fan as well, and his enthusiasm and thoroughness make this a first choice for those who want a deep look within Messiah.


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