BOOKS

TITLE: HANDEL'S MESSIAH: A CRITICAL ACCOUNT OF MANUSCRIPT SOURCES AND PRINTED EDITIONS
AUTHOR: JOHN TOBIN
PUBLISHER: ST. MARTIN'S PRESS
ISBN (HARDCOVER): 0312358407
ISBN (PAPERBACK): N/A
UPC/EAN: N/A
LCCN: 69-13491
YEAR: 1969
SERIES: N/A
PAGES: 279 P.
PUB. LOCATION: NEW YORK
DDC: ML410 H13 T62 1969
EXCERPT: CLICK HERE FOR SAMPLE PAGE (.PDF)


DESCRIPTION:  English conductor, musicologist and composer John Tobin has written the definitive work surveying the various editions of Handel's Messiah.  Examining all extant source manuscripts, Tobin strips away the myths that have surrounded Messiah since its premiere, and expertly reviews the source manuscripts, the printed editions, alternative settings, orchestrations, performance styles, harmonic structures, the basso-continuoso figuring, and Handel's treatment of the English language.  With clarity and pointed analysis he reveals the many changes, faults and errors which have crept into Messiah, and presents a conclusive summary of Handel's original intent and period style.

SITE RATING:  10/10
SITE REVIEW:  One of the landmark texts ever published on Messiah, John Tobin's 1969 A Critical Account Of Manuscript Sources And Printed Editions remains a benchmark in its field.  His thoroughness is staggering: he minutely examines all available Messiah sources, both manuscript, copies, and early printed editions, and painstakingly points out differences, errors, and various choices which editors have made, and comparing not only their faithfulness to the original sources, but examining whether various changes have merit.  Tobin comes out strongly in favor of a high amount of ornamentation, noting the many times Handel would plan for soloists to mimic the orchestral playing, and is feverish in his documentation of the many changes which Handel made himself over the course of many years, commenting that while some of the changes were necessary for the soloists and other forces he was able to gather, but also suggests that Handel was constantly "tinkering" with Messiah in an attempt to improve upon his first flush of inspiration.  With characteristic asides, Tobin critiques each change, intoning his own opinion about whether each "improvement" added or subtracted to the value of the original score.  While this may seem presumptuous, it lightens up the heavy, intensive scholarly tone of the book considerably, making A Critical Account... more readable than might be assumed at first glance.  Packed full of information, John Tobin managed to create a valuable, insightful look at the continuing evolution of Messiah, and for those deeply interested in the modern history of Messiah would be well served by delving into this book.


The Compleat Messiah All Content Copyright 2015 Bret D. Wheadon
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