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G C S E
S E T
E D E X C E L
W O R K
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M U S I C
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A R E A
S E S S I O N
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C A N
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S T U D Y
Y O U
H A N D E L
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SET WORK SUMMARY
“And the Glory of the Lord” from “Messiah”
PART 1 - Placing the Set Work in its Musical, Social and Historical Context
About the Composer – Placing the Set Work in a Social and Historical Context
George Frideric Handel - born in Germany in 1685
Appointed “Kappellmeister” to the Elector of Hanover who became King George I of England
Handel became the “royal composer” to George I and lived and worked in England
Handel’s sight failed him in later years, he died in 1759 and is buried in Westminster Abbey
Related composers – J. S. Bach (1685-1750); Henry Purcell (1659-1695); Vivaldi (1678-1741)
About the Set Work – Placing the Set Work in a Musical Context
“And the Glory of the Lord” is the first CHORUS for voices and orchestral accompaniment from Handel’s
ORATORIO – “Messiah”. Handel wrote “Messiah” in 1741 in only 24 days! The words (LIBRETTO) were taken
from the bible and tell of the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. An Oratorio (a “religious opera”)
consists of forms taken from Italian opera – RECITATIVES, ARIAS and CHORUSES. Unlike opera, oratorios
had no acting, scenery or costumes.
Music comes from the BAROQUE PERIOD (c.1600-1750) – features of Baroque music include
ORNAMENTED melodic parts (e.g. trills)
MAJOR/MINOR key structures (replacing “modes)
Basso CONTINUO (figured bass) played by Harpsichord (and Cello) to “fill in harmonies”
Different musical textures – HOMOPHONIC, POLYPHONIC
Baroque Orchestra – violin family, harpsichord, trumpets, horns and timpani
One “mood” set and maintained throughout the piece
TERRACED DYNAMICS – Loud or Soft
PART 2 – Musical Elements, Instrumentation & Musical Features
Time Signature
Tonality
Tempo
Dynamics
Pitch (vocal range)
Allegro
A major
Lively, fast dance
tempo to match joyous
mood
Rhythm
Harmony
“Driving” regular on-beat crotchet
rhythms match “stately” mood
Use of HEMIOLA – notes grouped
in 2-beat units e.g.
Clear MAJOR harmonies – minor
avoided to match joyful words.
Uses PERFECT CADENCES (V-I)
during piece with a PLAGAL
CADENCE (IV-I) ending the
chorus.
To match joyful mood
of words - TERRACED
Texture
Alternating HOMOPHONIC and
POLYPHONIC sections. The
chorus ends with a CHORDAL
HOMOPHONIC coda.
Musical Features
IMITATION & SEQUENCE–
SYLLABIC word setting – one
word per note
MELISMATIC word setting – one
word spread over many notes e.g.
“revealed”
Melody and Form & Structure
IDEA 1 (based on triad of A major & syllabic)
IDEA 3 (repetition)
Chorus is based on 4 contrasting melodic ideas
IDEA 2 (descending sequence & melisma)
IDEA 4 (notes of long duration - repeated)
Instrumentation
Written for four voices – SOPRANO, ALTO, TENOR and BASS with Instrumental accompaniment. The original accompaniment consisted of
STRINGS (VIOLINS, VIOLAS and CELLOS) with continuo (HARPSICHORD or ORGAN) and TRUMPETS and TIMPANI. Handel went on to add
parts for OBOES and BASSOONS to double the string parts and in places the voice parts.
W W W . M U S I C A L C O N T E X T S , C O . U K