George Frideric Handel

Life
1685-1759 [var. Frederick]; b. Saxony; began to play violin at 7; encouraged by Duke of Saxony; briefly attended university; worked as voilinist in German Opera, Hamburg; travelled in Italy for four years; early works incl. Alcina and Rinaldo; visited England, 1710 and returned in 1712, settling at Brook St.; establishing himself as the premier composer; suffered stroke, 1715; appt. court composer, 1724; invited to Dublin by Lord Lieutenant Wm. Cavendish, 1741-42, and took up accommodation in Abbey St.; his famous oratorio Messiah premiered at Mr. Neale’s Great [var. New] Musick Hall, in Fishamble St., Dublin, before ‘the most Grand, Polite, and Crowded Audience’ on 13 April, 1742, with the combined choirs of Christchurch and St. Patrick’s; Handel died in London from a fatal infection to the eye following an operation for cataract. ODNB OCEL BREF

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Criticism
Brendan McWilliams, musical notices in Irish Times 13 April, 1991 & 11 Dec, 1999, both arising from production of ‘rock’ Messiah as Messiah XXI in Dublin with Roger Daltrey and others (panned as ‘bucket of vomit’ by IT reviewer).

See also account in Constantia Maxwell, Dublin Under the Georges 1714-1830 (London: George Harrap 1936).

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Commentary
La Tourette Stockwell (Irish Stage &c.), p. 356, Prologue at performance of Handel at opening of Crow St. Jan. 25 1798, spoken by Mr. [William] Cooke (q.v.). See also See H[oratio] Townsend, ‘An Account of Handle’s Visit to Dublin’ (Dublin 1852).

Contemporary newspaper notice of Messiah reads: ‘On Tuesday last, Mr. Handel’s Sacred Grand Oratorio, the MESSIAH, was performed in the new Musick-Hall in Fishamble St.; the best judges alleded it to be the most finished piece of musick. Words are wanting to express the exquisite delight it afforded to the admiring crowded audience. the Sublime, the Grand, and the Tender, adapted to the most elevated, mjaestic and moving words, conspired to transport and charm the ravished heart and ear. It is but justice to Mr. Handel that the world should know he generously gave the Money arising from this Grand Performance to be equally shared by the Mercers Hospital, for which they will for ever gratefully remember his Name; and that the gentlemen of the two Choirs, Mr. Dubourg, Mrs. Avolio, and Mrs Cibber, all performed their parts to Admiration, acted also on the same disinterested principle, satisfied that the deserved Applause of the Publick, and the conscious pleasure of promoting such useful and extensive charity. thee were above 700 people in the room, and the sum collected for that noble and pious charity amounted to about 400, out of which 127 goes to each of the three great and pious charities.’

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References
Brian de Breffny, ed., Ireland: A Cultural Encyclopaedia (London: Thames & Hudson 1982), notes that Handel’s stay in Ireland was the most illustrious chapter in the city’s [musical] chronicle, and the premiere of Messiah, on 13 April 1742, its acme. [under music].

Dictionary of National Biography, records: ‘In Autumn 1741, Handel went to Dublin on the invitation of the Duke of Devonshire, then Lord Lieutenant ... a series of subscription concerts arranged at the new music hall in Fishamble St., where a number of his popular cantatas ... with instrument concertos [were played]. Handel had taken with him his new oratorio, finished in 23 days. It was first heard at rehearsal on 8 April; performed 13 April for the benefit of charities incl. prisoners in gaol. 700 people filled the hall, designed for 600; ladies were obliged to leave off their hoops and gentlemen their swords. The performance was repeated on 3 June.

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Notes
Denis Florence MacCarthy, “Dublin Sonnet”, in Sir John Gilbert’s History of the City of Dublin [epigraph]: ‘Where Handel’s hand moves the great organ stops.’

Variants: Sir Paul Hervey’s Oxford Companion to English Literature (1951 edn.) gives name as George Frederick [orig. Haendel], and puts Messiah premiere at 1741 [chk]; Phyllis Hartnoll, ed., Oxford Companion to Theatre (1988) writes that it was ‘composed 22 Aug.-14 Sept. 1741, performed 13 April 1742 (Dublin), and London a year later (23 March 1743), to a libretto by Charles Jennens.

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