Handel's Messiah

Description

George Frideric Handel (1685–1759) enjoyed enormous commercial and artistic success during his lifetime, particularly in England where he settled and later became a citizen.

He was initially best known as an opera composer but as public taste changed, and the financial difficulties of staging opera increased, he became increasingly associated with the oratorio. Usually based on biblical themes, oratorios used similar forces to operas but without staging, action and scenery. They also tended to give the chorus a larger role than in opera, often involving them in a kind of meditative reflection on aspects of the narrative.

In July 1741, Handel received a text from his friend and collaborator Charles Jennens, which brought together lines from the bible, sometimes slightly adapted, on the subject of the birth, death and Resurrection of Christ. Handel completed the work, titled Messiah, in September of the same year and it received its first performed in Dublin in April 1742.

This manuscript of the work is Handel’s own working copy, and contains many corrections and changes, made both while he was composing the work and before and after the first performance. Displayed here is the last page of the ‘Amen’ chorus, and of the whole oratorio.

This is one of 97 volumes of Handel’s manuscripts in the Royal Music Library. To see more of the Handel's Messiah please go to our award winning Turning the Pages™.

Full title:
George Frideric Handel: Messiah, HWV 56. Autograph manuscript
Created:
1741
Format:
Music / Manuscript
Creator:
George Frideric Handel
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library
Shelfmark:
R.M.20.f.2

Full catalogue details

Related articles

Music

Article by:
The British Library

Amongst our collections of printed and recorded music you can admire music manuscripts written by renowned composers. Here are some of our most famous, starting from the 13th century.

Beethoven’s favourite composer: George Frideric Handel

Article by:
David Wyn Jones

David Wyn Jones writes about Beethoven’s admiration of Handel's music and its presence in the musical life of Vienna.

‘To lash the age’: John Gay and The Beggar’s Opera

Article by:
Andrew Dickson
Themes:
Theatre and entertainment, Satire and humour

Andrew Dickson introduces The Beggar's Opera and its many satirical targets, including the court of George I, the politician Robert Walpole, the British legal system and Italian opera.

Related collection items