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Which Composer Wrote The Messiah Which Composer Wrote The Messiah


Which Composer Wrote The Messiah

Written by: Di Barnes

Discover the renowned composer behind The Messiah and explore their musical genius. Find out which composer brought this timeless masterpiece to life.

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Welcome to the fascinating world of classical music! In this article, we will delve into the captivating story behind one of the most iconic and beloved pieces in the repertoire: “The Messiah”. This masterpiece has stood the test of time, continuing to captivate audiences with its profound beauty and emotional depth.

But first, let’s take a step back and understand what “The Messiah” is all about. Dating back to the 18th century, this grand oratorio tells the story of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Its powerful music and heartfelt lyrics have made it a staple in the choral and orchestral repertoire, performed and cherished by musicians and listeners alike.

In this article, we will explore the life and works of the brilliant composer behind “The Messiah”. We will uncover the creative genius and inspiration that fueled the composition, as well as the legacy that this timeless masterpiece has left behind.

So, get ready to embark on a journey through the life of a musical genius and discover the rich history behind “The Messiah”. Join us as we unravel the mysteries and delve into the fascinating world of one of the greatest compositions of all time.


Background on “The Messiah”

“The Messiah” is an oratorio composed by the renowned composer George Frideric Handel. An oratorio is a large-scale musical composition for orchestra, choir, and soloists, similar to an opera but without staging or costumes. Handel composed “The Messiah” in 1741, and it has since become one of his most famous works, earning a place of honor in the classical music canon.

Handel’s composition of “The Messiah” was groundbreaking for its time. Traditionally, oratorios were written in Latin and based on biblical stories, but Handel made the significant decision to compose “The Messiah” in English, making it more accessible to a wider audience. This decision played a crucial role in the work’s popularity and enduring appeal throughout the centuries.

The oratorio is divided into three parts. The first part focuses on the prophecies and birth of Jesus Christ. It includes iconic movements such as the “Overture” and the powerful chorus “For unto us a Child is born.” The second part explores the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus, culminating in the emotive and world-renowned “Hallelujah” chorus. Finally, the third part celebrates the resurrection and salvation brought by Jesus, with the uplifting and triumphant “Worthy is the Lamb.”

One of the remarkable aspects of “The Messiah” is the masterful merger of different musical forms within the composition. Handel skillfully combines elements of opera, choral music, and instrumental interludes to create a dynamic and expressive work. The oratorio showcases a wide range of musical styles, from majestic choruses to tender arias, reflecting the various emotions and themes present in the libretto.

It is worth noting that “The Messiah” was not initially well-received when it premiered in Dublin, Ireland in 1742. However, it quickly gained popularity and became a Christmas tradition in England, especially after Handel’s annual performances for charity in London. Today, “The Messiah” is performed by orchestras and choirs worldwide during the holiday season, maintaining its status as a beloved and cherished composition.

Now that we have explored the background of “The Messiah”, let us turn our attention to the musical genius behind this iconic masterpiece.


Composer of “The Messiah”: George Frideric Handel

The creative mind behind “The Messiah” is none other than the acclaimed composer George Frideric Handel. Born in Halle, Germany, in 1685, Handel displayed an extraordinary talent for music from an early age. His father, who initially discouraged his musical pursuits, eventually recognized his son’s gift and allowed him to pursue his passion.

Handel’s musical journey took him from Germany to Italy, where he honed his skills as a composer and performer. It was during his time in Italy that Handel composed numerous operas and instrumental works that showcased his remarkable talent and mastery of composition.

In 1710, Handel moved to London, England, where he would spend the majority of his career. London provided a vibrant and thriving musical scene, and Handel quickly established himself as a prominent figure in the city’s musical circles. He gained fame and recognition for his operas, which were known for their grandeur and emotional depth.

However, it was through his foray into oratorio composition that Handel left an indelible mark on the history of music. In addition to “The Messiah,” Handel composed numerous other oratorios, including “Israel in Egypt,” “Samson,” and “Judas Maccabeus,” among others.

Handel’s ability to evoke profound emotions through his music is undoubtedly one of the reasons why his compositions, including “The Messiah,” continue to resonate with audiences to this day. His innate understanding of the human spirit and his mastery of various musical styles allowed him to create works that were both powerful and deeply moving.

Despite facing financial difficulties, temporary setbacks, and even health issues later in his life, Handel remained dedicated to his craft. He composed an astonishing amount of music, leaving behind a legacy that extends far beyond “The Messiah.” His compositions span various genres, including operas, oratorios, concertos, and chamber music.

George Frideric Handel passed away in 1759, leaving behind a rich and diverse body of work that continues to inspire and captivate audiences worldwide. His contributions to the world of music, particularly with “The Messiah,” have solidified his position as one of the most revered composers in history.

Now that we have explored the life and works of George Frideric Handel, let us uncover the inspiration behind the creation of “The Messiah.”


George Frideric Handel: A Musical Genius

In the realm of classical music, few names carry as much weight and reverence as George Frideric Handel. Handel’s contributions to the world of music are immeasurable, and his artistic genius continues to inspire musicians and audiences alike.

Handel possessed an exceptional talent for composition, effortlessly blending intricate melodies, rich harmonies, and grand orchestrations. His music reflects a deep understanding of human emotion, with the ability to convey a wide range of sentiments, from triumphant joy to profound sorrow.

Handel’s distinct musical style was deeply influenced by his experiences traveling and working in different musical centers across Europe. His years spent in Italy exposed him to the operatic tradition, infusing his compositions with a lyrical and dramatic quality. In contrast, his time in Germany and later in England strengthened his affinity for intricate counterpoint and grand choral writing.

One of Handel’s notable talents was his ability to compose with remarkable speed. Legend has it that he wrote “The Messiah” in just 24 days, a feat that is almost mind-boggling considering the magnitude and complexity of the work. This incredible speed of composition did not detract from the quality or craftsmanship of his music; rather, it showcased his remarkable creative capacity and mastery of the craft.

Handel’s versatility as a composer is evident in his ability to compose in a wide range of musical forms. From operas to oratorios, concertos to chamber music, his compositions spanned a diverse spectrum. Each work displayed a distinct musical personality, yet all were undeniably “Handelian” in their essence, characterized by their expressive depth and masterful craftsmanship.

What sets Handel apart as a musical genius is his profound understanding of the power of music to touch the human soul. His melodies and harmonies have an innate ability to stir emotions and transport listeners to different emotional landscapes. From the majestic “Hallelujah” chorus in “The Messiah” to the tender strains of “Lascia ch’io pianga” from his opera “Rinaldo,” Handel’s music has an enduring and timeless quality.

Handel’s influence extended far beyond his own time. His compositions not only shaped the world of music during the Baroque era but also laid the foundation for future generations of composers. Composers such as Mozart, Beethoven, and Mendelssohn were all inspired by Handel’s music and paid homage to his genius in their own compositions.

Although Handel faced various challenges and setbacks throughout his career, including financial difficulties and temporary periods of unpopularity, his love for music never wavered. He remained dedicated to his art and left behind a remarkable musical legacy that continues to be cherished and celebrated centuries later.

George Frideric Handel’s extraordinary musical genius shines through in every note he composed. His ability to create music that resonates deeply with audiences, even centuries after his time, solidifies his place among the greatest composers in history.

Now let’s explore the inspiration behind Handel’s magnum opus, “The Messiah.”


Handel’s Inspiration for “The Messiah”

Behind every great composition lies a wellspring of inspiration, and “The Messiah” is no exception. George Frideric Handel’s inspiration for this monumental oratorio can be traced back to a transformative moment he experienced during the composition process.

In 1741, Handel found himself in a period of personal and professional difficulty. He had experienced a string of unsuccessful operas, and his career seemed to be in decline. It was during this time that Charles Jennens, an English librettist and friend of Handel’s, approached him with a libretto based on biblical texts. This libretto would serve as the foundation for “The Messiah.”

As Handel immersed himself in the libretto, a remarkable transformation occurred. He later described the experience as feeling like “the heavens were opened.” Handel’s inspiration for “The Messiah” was not only a musical one but also a spiritual and emotional awakening.

The libretto cleverly weaves together texts from the Old and New Testaments, crafting a narrative that tells the story of the birth, passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The profound theological themes and the redemptive arc of the oratorio resonated deeply with Handel’s own spiritual beliefs.

Handel’s deep connection to the text is evident in the way he brought it to life through his music. Each movement of “The Messiah” reflects the emotional weight and spiritual significance of the words. From the humble and tender “And He shall feed His flock” to the triumphant and majestic “Hallelujah” chorus, Handel’s music paints a vivid and evocative picture of the biblical narrative.

The emotional intensity of “The Messiah” is heightened by Handel’s brilliant compositional techniques. The use of rich harmonies, soaring melodies, and intricate counterpoint breathe life into the libretto, eliciting a range of emotions from awe and reverence to joy and hope.

It is worth noting that Handel’s inspiration for “The Messiah” expanded beyond his personal connection to the text. The work was also driven by his desire to bring hope and comfort to his listeners. Handel recognized the power of music as a means of solace and healing during challenging times, and he wanted to create a work that would uplift and inspire those who experienced it.

The premiere of “The Messiah” in Dublin, Ireland in 1742 was met with mixed reactions, but it was in London that the oratorio truly found its place in the hearts of audiences. Handel’s annual performances of “The Messiah” for charity became a cherished tradition, providing sustenance for both body and soul during the festive season.

Handel’s inspiration for “The Messiah” stemmed from a combination of personal struggles, spiritual awakening, and a desire to bring solace to others. The result is a timeless masterpiece that continues to resonate with listeners, offering them a glimpse of the divine through the transformative power of music.

Now, let’s dive into the creation and reception of “The Messiah.”


Creation and Reception of “The Messiah”

After being inspired by the libretto and experiencing a personal transformation, George Frideric Handel embarked on the creation of “The Messiah” in 1741. Working with incredible speed and passion, Handel composed the monumental oratorio in a mere 24 days.

“The Messiah” premiered on April 13, 1742, in Dublin, Ireland, at the Music Hall on Fishamble Street. The performance was a charity benefit, raising funds for local hospitals and charitable organizations. The reception of the oratorio was mixed initially, with some praising its spiritual depth and musical brilliance while others found it unconventional and controversial.

However, it was in London where “The Messiah” truly found its audience and acclaim. Handel began annual performances of the oratorio in London from 1749 onwards, establishing a tradition that would continue until the present day. These performances became highly anticipated events, often scheduled during the Easter season, and were eagerly attended by audiences seeking a musical and spiritual experience.

The popularity of “The Messiah” quickly spread beyond England, reaching audiences across Europe and later around the world. Its appeal knows no bounds, transcending cultural and religious differences. The oratorio has become an integral part of the Christmas and Easter repertoire and is performed by choirs and orchestras in concert halls, churches, and cathedrals worldwide.

One of the most well-known and beloved parts of “The Messiah” is the “Hallelujah” chorus. Legend has it that during the London premiere in 1743, King George II was so moved by the powerful chorus that he spontaneously stood up. As per tradition, when the king stands during a performance, everyone else in the audience follows suit. This act of reverence has since been incorporated into the tradition of standing during the “Hallelujah” chorus.

Throughout the years, “The Messiah” has undergone various adaptations and interpretations, with different arrangements and performance styles. The oratorio has been performed in its entirety or in excerpts, showcasing the diverse interpretations and creative freedom that artists and conductors bring to the work.

Despite its enduring popularity, “The Messiah” faced criticism and controversy during its early years. Some religious authorities found it inappropriate to present sacred texts in a theatrical setting, while others criticized Handel for his departure from traditional liturgical music. However, Handel’s unwavering belief in the power of music to convey spiritual and emotional truths allowed “The Messiah” to transcend its early critiques and find its rightful place as one of the greatest musical compositions in history.

Today, “The Messiah” continues to awe and inspire audiences of all backgrounds. Its powerful melodies, stirring choruses, and profound libretto unite listeners in a shared experience of transcendence and hope. Handel’s genius is deeply embedded within each movement, inviting us to join in the celebration of faith, redemption, and the universal human experience.

In the next section, let’s explore the lasting legacy of “The Messiah” and how it has influenced the world of classical music.


Legacy of “The Messiah”

“The Messiah” has left an indelible mark on the world of classical music and continues to shape the way we perceive and appreciate choral and orchestral compositions. Its enduring legacy is a testament to the genius of George Frideric Handel and the profound impact his masterpiece has had on generations of musicians and listeners.

One of the most remarkable aspects of “The Messiah” is its universal appeal. Despite being rooted in Christian scripture and themes, the oratorio resonates with audiences from all walks of life and various religious backgrounds. The themes of hope, redemption, and joy depicted in the music and lyrics transcend religious boundaries, inviting listeners to embark on a spiritual and emotional journey.

“The Messiah” has become an integral part of the festive season, particularly during Christmas and Easter. It has become customary for orchestras, choirs, and communities around the world to perform this beloved masterpiece, fostering a sense of unity and tradition. The soaring melodies, powerful choruses, and heartfelt arias have become synonymous with the holiday season, evoking feelings of joy, reverence, and renewal.

Handel’s genius in writing memorable melodies is evident in the many popular excerpts from “The Messiah.” Apart from the iconic “Hallelujah” chorus, highlights such as “For unto us a Child is born,” “Ev’ry valley shall be exalted,” and “He shall feed His flock” are frequently performed as standalone pieces at concerts and events. These memorable melodies have found their way into popular culture, appearing in movies, commercials, and television shows, further cementing their place in our collective consciousness.

In addition to its widespread performance, “The Messiah” has inspired countless composers and musicians throughout history. Influential figures such as Mozart and Beethoven held Handel’s oratorios in high regard and drew inspiration from his vocal writing and compositional techniques. The influence of “The Messiah” can be heard in their own choral and symphonic works, as well as in the works of later composers.

Furthermore, “The Messiah” has paved the way for future compositions in the oratorio genre. Handel’s fusion of theatrical drama, choral grandeur, and expressive solo passages set a precedent for future composers to explore and experiment with. The success of “The Messiah” opened up new possibilities for musical storytelling through the combination of text, music, and performance, and its influence can be seen in the works of composers such as Mendelssohn, Brahms, and many others.

Moreover, “The Messiah” continues to be a source of inspiration for aspiring musicians and singers. Its demanding vocal solos, elaborate choral movements, and intricately woven harmonies provide opportunities for performers to showcase their talent and interpretive skills. Many professional singers, from various musical backgrounds, consider performing “The Messiah” a milestone and a testament to their vocal prowess.

As we reflect on the legacy of “The Messiah,” it becomes evident that Handel’s masterpiece has firmly secured its place in the annals of music history. Its ability to transcend time, culture, and religious boundaries is a testament to the power of music to unite, uplift, and inspire. “The Messiah” stands as a shining example of the transformational and enduring nature of artistic expression.

As we conclude our exploration of “The Messiah,” we invite you to experience its magic firsthand and join in the celebration of this extraordinary musical gift to the world.

Remember to always keep the buscuits handy while listening to this enchanting composition.



As we come to the end of our journey through the captivating story of “The Messiah,” it is clear that George Frideric Handel’s masterpiece has left an enduring impact on the world of classical music. This monumental oratorio continues to captivate audiences with its profound beauty, emotional depth, and timeless themes of hope and redemption.

From its humble beginnings in Dublin to its eventual rise to international acclaim, “The Messiah” has transcended its initial mixed reception and solidified its place as one of the greatest compositions of all time. Handel’s masterful composition, characterized by its rich melodies, intricate counterpoint, and powerful choral writing, showcases his genius and artistic vision.

The legacy of “The Messiah” extends far beyond its music and performance. Its universal themes and captivating melodies have touched the hearts and souls of listeners for centuries, regardless of religious affiliation or cultural background. This enduring appeal is a testament to Handel’s ability to tap into the deeper emotions and aspirations of humanity through his music.

Furthermore, “The Messiah” has influenced and inspired countless composers and musicians, leaving an indelible mark on the development of choral and orchestral composition. Its significance can be felt in the works of great composers who followed in Handel’s footsteps, as well as in the performances of countless choirs, orchestras, and soloists who continue to breathe life into this timeless masterpiece.

Today, “The Messiah” remains a cherished tradition, performed and celebrated each year during the holiday season. Its iconic choruses, such as the majestic “Hallelujah” chorus, have become engrained in our cultural fabric, evoking a sense of joy, reverence, and unity among all who experience its transcendent power.

As we reflect on the legacy of “The Messiah,” we are reminded of the profound impact that music can have on our lives. Through Handel’s brilliant composition, we are transported to a world of beauty, inspiration, and spirituality. “The Messiah” serves as a powerful reminder that music has the unique ability to connect us, stir our emotions, and touch the depths of our souls.

So, whether you find yourself listening to the soaring melodies of “The Messiah” in a concert hall, a place of worship, or in the comfort of your own home, let its timeless beauty and profound message resonate within you. Embrace the enduring legacy of Handel’s masterpiece and continue to marvel at the transformative power of music.

As we conclude our exploration of “The Messiah,” let us carry with us the profound musical journey, the powerful melodies, and the bond that connects us through the shared experience of this extraordinary composition.