Thursday, September 14, 2017

Handel runs into controversy in Tennessee


First there is this from The Writer's Almanac:


George Frideric Handel completed the Messiah  oratorio on this date in 1741. Librettist Charles Jennens had finished the text in July, and he handed it off to Handel with great expectations. He wrote to a friend, "I hope [Handel] will lay out his whole Genius & Skill upon it, that the Composition may excel all his former Compositions, as the Subject excels every other Subject." Handel worked at a furious pace, doing nothing else but composing from morning to night, and completed the oratorio in only 24 days. Messiah tells the story of Jesus' birth, death, and resurrection. It was originally written for the Easter season, and it debuted in Dublin at a charity concert the following April. The event attracted 700 people; to accommodate such a crowd, gentlemen were asked to leave their swords at home, and ladies were requested to remove the hoops from their skirts. The Dublin News-Letter reported that Messiah "far surpass[ed] anything of that Nature which has been performed in this or any other Kingdom." It remained one of Handel's favorite works for the rest of his life, and grew to become a beloved holiday favorite — but at Christmastime, rather than Easter. Even Mozart was reluctant to change anything about the oratorio when he supervised a new arrangement in 1789. "Handel knows better than any of us what will make an effect," Mozart said. "When he chooses, he strikes like a thunderbolt."



And, with a focus on a Tennessee and atheists, there is this article.



Finally, there is this personal postscript:

I wonder what Handel would think of the dispute in Tennessee. What do you think?



19 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. What would Handel think? Having grown up in a Christian dominated society, he would probably be confused. He would wonder what's wrong with the state supporting Christian music.

    What do you think, R.T.?

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  3. One of the atheists did pose an interesting question: what if that had been a song praising Allah? I wonder what the reaction of the Christians would be then.

    R.T.: what do you think?

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  4. I would have no problem listening to Islamic sacred, if I knew of any.

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    1. Yes, Frank, see my response to Fred. Art is transcendent.

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    2. Frank, neither would I. But, not everybody would agree with us, I should think.

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  5. Fred, I think art, including music, must be immune from such sectarian, political conflict. Will religious paintings and sculptures be purged from museums? Aesthetic considerations must prevail. That standard pertains to art inspired by all religions.

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    1. R.T.--so you would have no objection to playing music praising Allah, then. I wonder how the author of that editorial would respond.

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    2. In the appropriate context, I would not object to other religious arts.

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    3. Fred, I meant to say "sectarian, secular, and political conflict."

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    4. R.T.--I agree completely. Even that liberal bastion NPR agrees as they almost daily play a musical work that would be considered as religious.

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  6. My opinion about the controversy? Just like on the Right, there are those on the Left who overreact. But, they are opposing what they see as a constitutional problem in the correct way, initially through communicating with the school authorities--no riots, bullying, or other forms of physical aggression.

    I don' agree with them, but they do have the right to express their opinions.

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    1. Good point, Fred. I agree. And I agree with the school rationale and decision. Aesthetic values transcend personal values.

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    2. Fred, see Frank's comment at his blog.

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  7. eye opener here... in spite of being for a while a classical musician, i never much think of Handel as being religious... the Messiah is a spectacular piece of work; the only mass i like better is Bach Mass in B Minor, which just blows me away... don't know what it was about the Baroque period, it produced more great music, imo, than any other time... Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, Telemann, Corelli, Lulli, the list goes onandon... tx for featuring one of the best aspects of human creativity, RT...

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    1. Mudpuddle, I wonder if the anti-Christian complainers would also object to displays and discussions of classical art by people like Michelangelo et al. .g., https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pietà_(Michelangelo)
      Yes, of course, they would complain.
      And as the cleansing and coarsening of culture continues, what will remain? Rap music, gang graffiti, and vulgar films? Of course!

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    2. R.T.--where has this happened?

      The only ones who complain about art are the fundamentalist Christians. The banned book lists are filled with complaints by Christians, not atheists.

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    3. Fred, I see your point. Let me correct myself by inveighing against anyone who would ban art for reasons of religion, politics, ideology, or other personal reasons. Is that a more fair statement?

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