Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
Graham Abbott conductor
Siobhan Stagg soprano
Sally-Anne Russell alto
Samuel Sakker tenor
Pelham Andrews bass
Warren Trevelyan-Jones chorus master
About this performance
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, which means it is time again for Handel’s greatest oratorio celebration, Messiah. Composed in 1741, the work is still as potent as it was 280 years ago, inspiring joy and wonder from both first-time listeners and the audience members who have sung along for many years.
- One of the most enduring works of all time, it only took Handel about 24 days to write Messiah. He began at the end of August in 1741, and his pen was down by mid-September, including the 48 hours he took to quickly work out the orchestration from his sketched-out draft.
- While we’ve come to know and love hearing Messiah around Christmas time, it was originally intended for Easter. The conductor of the London Handel Orchestra, Laurence Cummings, thinks maybe it was because there was not much Christmas music: “There is so much fine Easter music… and so little great sacral music written for Christmas,” he told Smithsonian Magazine.
- Messiah’s debut was at the Musick Hall in Dublin on April 13, 1742. It may seem like a strange location, but Dublin was quickly becoming one of Europe’s most flourishing cities, with many wealthy patrons keen to hear new, exciting work.