BOOKS

TITLE: HANDEL'S MESSIAH
AUTHOR: JENS PETER LARSEN
PUBLISHER: W.W. NORTON
ISBN (HARDCOVER): 031324426X
ISBN (PAPERBACK): 0393306283
UPC/EAN: 9780393306286
LCCN: ML410.H13L2; 72-5025
YEAR: 1972
SERIES: N/A
PAGES: 337 P.
PUB. LOCATION: NEW  YORK
DDC: 783.3'092'4
EXCERPT: CLICK HERE FOR SAMPLE PAGE (.PDF)


DESCRIPTION:  Through two centuries of interpretation and performances by musicians and laymen with widely varying talents and objectives, the true nature of Handel's Messiah has become obscured and distorted. The late Jens Peter Larsen, distinguished musicologist of the University of Copenhagen and a leading musical scholar in the field of eighteenth-century music, presents here the detailed biography of a great work of art. In his book we not only recapture the true form of the work but gain insight into the religious and social ramifications and changing tastes in music which its history reflects.

SITE RATING:  10/10
SITE REVIEW:  This 1972 work by Swedish author Jens Peter Larsen remains the 'go-to' book for scholarly study of Handel's Messiah, and for a couple of very good reasons: first, it's eminently readable, with the English translation perfectly capturing the easy, conversational prose of Larsen's original text; second, it is thorough - with biographical, musicological, and textual examinations, as well as a lengthy look at the sources for our modern-day scores.  It's hard to argue with a book that has come to be regarded as a standard in its field, Larsen's arguments are so compelling, so clear-eyed, that it makes reading this book a pleasure.  I also appreciate (not being an expert in music theory), that the author doesn't bog down his writing with technical terms; but writes with a smooth layman's voice that nevertheless doesn't "dumb-down" the discussion, but rather invites a larger slice of the general audience into the discussion.  Larsen wrote this book after recognizing that Messiah's origins and purpose had become obscured, and to a degree corrupted in the generations since its creation.  Thus, the purpose of this book was to strip away decades of misinformation and, in an almost "Lutheran" act of rebellion, return to the pure, first Messiah that Handel created.  So influential was Larsen's work, that I strongly suspect that it was the impetus for the later Baroque revival movement that began in the late 1970s.


The Compleat Messiah All Content Copyright 2015 Bret D. Wheadon
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