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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Concise, Witty and Informative, August 21, 2001
By 
Jeffrey Sauro (Denver, CO United States) - See all my reviews
What do Jonathan Swift and Thomas Bowdler have to do with Handel? Barber does a great job of illustrating these and other historically relevant facts. The book was well written and witty. I read this book in one sitting while listening to the Messiah being performed by the Chicago St. Clements choir using the original baroque style instruments. If only every book had an accompanying orchestral score! The few illustrations were appropriate and funny. I've included some excerpts below:
Notes:
* His father wanted him to become a lawyer. His mother helped sneak a clavichord up to the attic. p 18
* Got his first break when he played organ at a Calvinist cathedral even though he was Lutheran. The previous organist was fired for showing up drunk Sunday morning. p22
* Soloist Susannah Cibber brought the audience to tears. Dr. Patrick Delany the chancellor of St. Patrick's Cathedral stood up and shouted "Woman, for this be all thy sins forgiven." p49
* The original Messiah chorus had 32 singers -16 boy trebles, 16 men, 32 piece orchestra p32
* Jonathan Swift was dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral and in an irritable state three years before his death almost cancelled the concert on confusion.
* Charles Jennens who edited five works of Shakespeare lived a couple houses down from the Bowdler family (his cousin married a Bowdler). Thomas Bowdler(1754 - 1825) took all the "dirty words" out of Shakespeare producing the Family Shakespeare. p62
* King George II started standing during the Hallelujah chorus. p74
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Getting a Handel on Messiah
Getting a Handel on Messiah by David W. Barber
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