Handel's Messiah - the advent calendar

Handel's Messiah - the advent calendar

A podcast series about the people, the places, the music, the drama and the gossip that is connected to the maiden performance of Handel's Messiah in Dublin in 1742. www.nylandkommunikation.dk Danish version www.handelmessiah.dk

Episodes

December 2, 2018 7 min
In the first episode we are going down Fishamble Street, one of the oldest streets in Dublin. It was in the exclusive Musick Hall in this street that Handel’s Messiah was first performed on 13 April 1742. Once upon a time Fishamble Street was one of Dublin’s most unsanitary streets. It later became one of the most fashionable streets in Dublin. Today it is rather dull. However, it is a good starting point for the many stories about...
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In the second episode we will hear about Handel nearly being ruined by pretentious opera divas and opera productions that were overly expensive. We will also hear how the opera audience at the time would both drink, talk and play cards during the performances - and how a furious audience once nearly took Covent Garden apart because they wanted the audience to pay full price for their tickets. In other words Handel had several reaso...
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December 5, 2018 6 min
No Messiah without Charles Jennens! Because creating this holy oratorio was his idea. It was he who wrote the libretto based on the Bible. However, Charles Jennens had no interest in getting his name mentioned. He never asked to be paid for his work either. Because Charles Jennens had much more important things on his mind!
Music: Dunedin Consort ‘Handel’s Original Dublin Version 1742’
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December 5, 2018 6 min
Handel composed the music for Messiah in 24 days, and the librettist, Charles Jennens, was furious that Handel had not spent more time on the music seeing as it was such an important piece of work meant to inspire people to live a god-fearing life. In a letter to a friend some years later, when Jennens and Handel had once again become friends, Jennens described his relationship with Handel thus: ‘I must take him as I find him and m...
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December 5, 2018 5 min
When Handel met Matthew Dubourg, who would later become Master of the Music at the court in Dublin, he was a little boy playing the violin standing on a stool. When the audience clapped afterwards, little Matthew Dubourg became so startled that he fell off the stool. Dubourg would later save Handel’s career. In this episode we will be joined by musician and conductor Peter Whelan, who will tell us about his latest discoveries about...
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December 6, 2018 4 min
Due to bad weather conditions Handel’s trip from Parkgate to Dublin by boat is delayed for several days. He spends his time gathering a choir to practise Messiah. The choir consists of the best choir singers from the cathedral in Chester - AND the local printer, Janson, who has a beautiful bass voice. However, Handel is not overly impressed by Janson’s skills to say the least ...
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December 7, 2018 4 min
Handel arrives in Ireland on 18 November and is welcomed with open arms. Where life seemed light, cheerful, elegant and fashionable when the aristocracy were enjoying themselves in the new music hall in Fishamble Street, then life was looking considerably different to the majority of the inhabitants in Dublin. There was a particular reason that hospitals for poor people and musical charities for imprisoned debtors were in such dire...
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December 8, 2018 5 min
Whereas it is a well-known part of musical history that Messiah premiered in Dublin’s new leading music hall in Fishamble Street as a benefit concert arranged by a.o. the Charitable Musical Society for the Release of Imprisoned Debtors, the gravity of the situation in Ireland in 1741 is a less well-known part of history. A musical society whose purpose is to pay for the release of imprisoned debtors may at first sound sweet and che...
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December 11, 2018 6 min
The Charitable Musical Society was quite a unique musical society. Even though there were many similar societies in Dublin in the 1740s this society stood out because of its many activities. Their primary aim was to raise money to release imprisoned debtors. Furthermore their members were the driving force behind bringing Handel to Dublin – and they were also responsible for building the biggest music hall in Ireland. Finally it st...
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December 11, 2018 5 min
On 14 December Handel started selling tickets for his concerts from his own living room. Dublin was the perfect size for successful benefit concerts. It was big enough and wealthy enough for it to have an audience who would support the many worthy causes – AND it was small enough to ensure that it would be noticed if any of the nobility failed to attend a benefit concert. The numerous benefit concerts around Dublin were taken very ...
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December 11, 2018 7 min
The Irish State Musick was the permanent ensemble at the court at Dublin Castle. They were primarily paid in beer and had to take on extra work as waiters in order to make a living. The violinists also had to accept that the trumpeters were paid more because they had a higher risk of dying while on duty. In this episode you will also get an explanation as to why you will not be hearing one single note of Irish traditional music in ...
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December 13, 2018 5 min
It has been reported that Handel hardly ate anything during the 24 days it took him to write the music for Messiah. How the food which the waiter brought the busy composer remained untouched. How tears smeared the notes. How his trembling fingers made the ink run, and how in the end he exclaimed, ‘I did think I did see all Heaven before me, and the great God Himself’. It would be amazing if this was true – but it isn’t …
Music: Dune...
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December 13, 2018 4 min
Handel was soon so busy in Dublin that he could not keep up. Smock Alley Theatre further down Fishamble Street had to cancel performances because Handel monopolised the best musicians in the city. They even had to turn Fishamble Street into a one-way street when Handel was giving concerts because of the ensuing traffic congestion. Thus sedan chairs could no longer just be parked outside Mr Neal’s Great Musick Hall while the noble g...
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December 27, 2018 5 min
‘The tenor voice that gives me the greatest satisfaction’ were Handel’s words about John Church, who later appeared in Messiah. However, even though John, who was such a fantastic singer, both had the surname Church and was a church singer he was always getting into trouble. However, the most fêted musicians would often be trouble. They were more or less constantly drunk. They would often fight – also during services.
Music: Dunedin...
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December 27, 2018 7 min
She was the star of the first performance of Messiah in Dublin. In the years leading up to this Susannah Cibber had had a tough time.
It was nothing short of a sensation when the 17-year-old craftsman’s daughter, Susannah Cibber, quickly became one of the most fêted actresses and singers in London. She married actor and dramatist Theophilus Cibber, who soon turned out to be both malicious, violent, mendacious and manipulative. He fr...
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January 9, 2019 7 min
Today’s episode of the advent calendar is not for those faint of heart as it contains both love-making scenes, a kidnapping and hostage-taking. On 5 December 1738 Theophilus Cibber sued William Sloper for having ‘molested, robbed and had sexual intercourse with the plaintiff’s wife’. Theophilus wanted 5,000 pounds in compensation. Because the case involved such a famous actor, the judge ruled that no minutes would be taken during t...
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January 9, 2019 6 min
Susannah Cibber arrives in Dublin, and her performance is a big disaster - but then the viceroy asserts himself! When exactly Handel and Cibber first meet in Dublin, and at what point Handel decides to let her sing one of the most important parts of Messiah is unknown. Susannah Cibber had had singing parts since the beginning of her career, but she became famous for her acting. Her voice was described as ‘sweet’ and ‘exceptionally ...
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February 20, 2019 5 min
Troubles ahead for mr Handel! It seemed that Handel was holding back on announcing his plans to present his big, new oratorio Messiah while in Dublin. This is no doubt because he wanted to make sure that he had the right musicians and singers for the premiere. He could now be sure of the musicians. Matthew Dubourg had gathered the best musicians in the city for Handel. Handel also had the soloists under control. But the choir singe...
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February 20, 2019 7 min
Recipe for ragout with poor Irish children: The mighty dean and writer, Jonathan Swift was close to putting a stop to the premiere of Messiah. Under no circumstances would he let his choir singers perform in a ‘fiddle players’ club in Fishamble Street’. One would have thought that Jonathan Swift in particular would appreciate a concert that was to raise money for the release of imprisoned debtors who were starving. Because Jonathan...
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February 20, 2019 7 min
Mrs. Delaney, the good friend: Another woman who played an important role in Handel’s life was Mary Delaney or Mary Pendarves. The reason for calling attention to her in this advent calendar is that she had been trying to convince Handel for a long time that if he would only go to Dublin, everything was going to be alright. And she spoke from experience. For both Handel, Cibber and Mary Pendarves Dublin became the city of fresh sta...
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