Judas MaccabŠus - G. F. Handel
Spring 2003 Concert
Tina Johns Heidrich, Conductor
Joe Jacovino, Accompanist
Connecticut Master Chorale Orchestra
Judas MaccabŠus – George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)
George Frideric Handel
G.F. Handel was the master of oratorio writing. While Messiah is his most dramatic and popular one, he composed several outstanding oratorios with biblical and religious themes – among them Samson, Saul (1739), and Judas MaccabŠus (1746).
Judas MaccabŠus celebrates the victories of the ancient Jewish loyalists, led by Judas MaccabŠus, over Antiochus, the King of Syria. The work is written in three acts - each act being well structured for musical purposes and the many contrasts of key, mood, tempo and texture providing all the variety needed to hold the listener’s interest. The text and story taken are taken from the Bible – "First Book of Maccabees."
Judas MaccabŠus was very well received at its first performance in 1747, as it was for all of Handel’s performances of it through 1759. Unlike several of his other dramatic oratorios, this grand work remained popular throughout the Victorian era and continues to enjoy enormous popularity to this day. One of its themes, "See the Conquering Hero Comes," has been adopted by Jews as a veritable Hanukkah melody, and also by Christians as the resurrection hymn "Thine Is the Glory." The truth be told, though, it did not appear in the original version of Judas MaccabŠus, but was grafted subsequently from Handel's later oratorio Joshua.
Judas MaccabŠus, with its magisterial strains is a triumphant oratorio, as befits the circumstances that gave rise to it. It is surely among Handel's finest works and an excellent example of this composer’s musical genius.