George Frideric Handel

Although Handel’s Messiah is now regularly performed during the Christmas holidays, the work was actually premiered in the spring before Easter. WRTI’s Susan Lewis has more on the fantastically successful masterpiece, which was created by necessity in just 24 days over two centuries ago.


March 12, 2018. Fugue State highlights music from two centuries of keyboard composers from the High Baroque period.  Pianist Alan Feinberg interprets a musical range beginning with Danish-German composer Dieterich Buxtehude and concluding with Bach and Handel. 

George Frideric Handel by Balthasar Denner

The composer of Messiah will never be forgotten. But there is so much more to Handel that you voted him our 10th most essential classical composer.  Please support WRTI 90.1 during our 10-day Essential Winter Quiet Drive and Classical Countdown. Give here.

Handel’s Messiah, originally composed for performance during the springtime Christian observance of Lent, has become a contemporary staple of Christmas celebrations in modern America. WRTI’s Susan Lewis has more on this 18th-century oratorio.

Philadelphia’s role in the formation of our government is characteristic of a time when the city and its leading residents were forging firsts of all kinds.  As Handel’s Messiah is performed this holiday season, you might wonder when and where those first citizens might have heard the great Baroque work.

So what do you do if you're a recently crowned head of state and you're already facing opposition — even from within your own family? One answer is optics. Make a big, public splash; throw a lavish party with A-list musical entertainment. That's just what happened in London — 300 years ago Monday.

George Frideric Handel was born in Germany in 1685, and moved to Britain as a young man. He spent his most productive years there, and became a naturalized British subject in his early 40s. His now-famous Water Music suites, commissioned for King George I for a ceremonial boat ride on the River Thames in London, were first performed during the summer of 1717.

If you can't be at Verizon Hall for this Sunday's performance of Messiah, you can listen to last December's LIVE broadcast right here on WRTI -  on your radio or online!

Handel's Water Music stands alongside his Messiah and Music for the Royal Fireworks as one of the best-known works of a composer who went from operas to oratorios. The now-famous Baroque suite commissioned for a king’s ceremonial boat ride on the River Thames was first performed during the summer of 1717.  Five years later, it was brought inside to London’s Stationers Hall. But whether the audience heard all or just part of the hour-long suite remains a mystery.

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