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

  • From the Publisher
May 22, 2014

Every Christ­mas and East­er, audi­ences across the globe thrill to per­for­mances of Han­del’s Mes­si­ah, but they would prob­a­bly be appalled to learn the full extent of the ora­to­ri­o’s mean­ing. 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 Christ.

New­ly iden­ti­fied his­tor­i­cal source mate­ri­als reveal the cir­cum­stances that led to the cre­ation of Mes­si­ah and expose the hate­ful sen­ti­ments masked by Han­del’s 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.

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