Monday, December 13, 2010

Beethoven and Handel

My teacher Mr. Mueller often mentioned that Handel was Beethoven's favorite composer. He would say that the trio from Beethoven's Fifth Symphony was a Handelian fugato which inextricably leads into a glorious hymn (with trombones, which, up to this point had been mainly used in religious works).

Then, this past Saturday, I conducted Beethoven's 5th in the afternoon, and Handel's Messiah in the evening. While conducting Handel's oratorio, I was as much listener as leader, taking in all of the glories and wonders that would later find its way into the symphonies of Beethoven.

Thank you, Mr. Mueller. Now I get it!

Handel's Messiah

At recent performances of Messiah, the audiences readily stood during the Hallelujah chorus. During my pre-concert talk, I suggested that the tradition may have started when King George II stood thinking that he was hearing his country's national anthem (Rule Brittania). They do start similarly, in identical rhythm. (Maestro Rick Coffey respectfully disagrees with me on this notion.)

At any rate, if today we stand not for The Crown, but rather for Handel and the wonder of his titanic genius, then I'm all for it. Let the tradition live on for another 250 years.