Tainted Glory in Handel's Messiah

Tainted Glory in Handel's Messiah: The Unsettling History of the World's Most Beloved Choral Work

MICHAEL MARISSEN
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 232
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5vm6qd
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Tainted Glory in Handel's Messiah
    Book Description:

    Every Easter, audiences across the globe thrill to performances of Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus," but they would probably be appalled to learn the full extent of the oratorio's anti-Judaic message. In this pioneering study, respected musicologist Michael Marissen examines Handel's masterwork and uncovers a disturbing message of anti-Judaism buried within its joyous celebration of the divinity of the Christ.Discovering previously unidentified historical source materials enabled the author to investigate the circumstances that led to the creation of theMessiahand expose the hateful sentiments masked by magnificent musical artistry-including the famed "Hallelujah Chorus," which rejoices in the "dashing to pieces" of God's enemies, among them the "people of Israel." Marissen's fascinating, provocative work offers musical scholars and general readers alike an unsettling new appreciation of one of the world's best-loved and most widely performed works of religious music.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-20699-9
    Subjects: Music, Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. I INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-12)

    When I was a child in the 1960s and my Dutch Calvinist immigrant family bought our first record player, among the half dozen or so LPs we acquired was the classic recording ofMessiahby Eugene Ormandy with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Philadelphia Orchestra. My parochial school education had made me deeply familiar with the Bible, and therefore I recognized the scriptural texts used in Handel’s masterpiece. But in those days I wasn’t much interested in the words, and I more or less ignored them. What inspired me was the staggering magnificence of Handel’s music.

    For my youthful...

  5. II REJOICING AGAINST JUDAISM IN HANDEL’S MESSIAH
    (pp. 13-78)

    Across North America, performances of Handel’s oratorioMessiah—many of them “sing-ins,” with the audience joining in for the choruses—are musical highlights of the Christmas season. Christians, Jews, and others come together to delight in one of the consummate masterpieces of Western music.

    The high point, inevitably, is the Hallelujah chorus, familiar not only from countless concerts and recordings but also from its use in less lofty surroundings, from Mel Brooks’sHistory of the World, Part I, where it signifies the origins of music among cavemen, to recent television ads depicting frantic bears’ ecstatic relief in chancing upon Charmin...

  6. III THE MESSIAH LIBRETTO
    (pp. 79-180)

    This part of the book is meant primarily as a general reference work but also as an additional means to further contextualize and support the primary arguments of the main essay, in chapter 2. Both the essay and the annotated libretto, however, are designed in a way that they can be profitably be read in isolation.

    The annotated libretto primarily focuses on providing biblical background. In Jennens’s and Handel’s day, authors and composers could (and did) rely on their audience to understand the contexts of a biblical libretto—essentially the King James Version of the Bible (KJV) and theBook...

  7. NOTES
    (pp. 181-192)
  8. BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE
    (pp. 193-194)
  9. WORKS CITED
    (pp. 195-202)
  10. INDEX OF MOVEMENTS FROM HANDEL’S MESSIAH
    (pp. 203-206)
  11. INDEX OF BIBLICAL SOURCES
    (pp. 207-212)
  12. INDEX OF NAMES AND SUBJECTS
    (pp. 213-218)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 219-219)