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Handel's Late Style

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Old 12-02-11, 01:07 AM
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Default Handel's Late Style

Does Handel have a "late style" ? What is it? Please discuss, with yummy musical examples.
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Old 13-02-11, 06:07 PM
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Ok, peeps, 27 views and no responses? This is a serious question. I don't know the answer either, although I have had a few friends who've given me their thoughts on the subject.

As for "late style," I don't necessarily mean that in the classic sense, in which it's applied to Beethoven or Brahms, both of whom tend toward economy of means, inwardness, blah blah blah. You can go read vast amounts of literature on that subject, whatev.

Handel is still writing frilly outrageous vocal lines late in his life, but it's in the context of oratorio and not opera. And it's after he's been writing more instrumental works. Does it make a difference? How have all those years of composition affected his work?

Is this (1747) oratorio example, thanks to Mongoose,
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eu3PphtkB7U"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eu3PphtkB7U[/ame]

more or less similar to this oratorio example (1708)?
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1nBvnIMWeus&feature=related"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1nBvnIMWeus&feature=related[/ame]


No, yes? What do you guys think?

What has Handel learned in 40 years?
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Old 13-02-11, 07:19 PM
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Well, it's an awfully difficult question, don't you know. I mean, without having made a proper study of Handel it isn't at all easy to judge. I am not well up in the correct musical terminology, so as far as I'm concerned they are both what I refer to as "Great Scott!" arias. I'm a little amazed that anyone manages to sing them at all, let alone sing them so well.

Thinking about the works that Handel revised several times over his lifetime - the ones I know most about being the Messiah and The Triumph of Time and Truth - I'm not sure that I can discern any obvious change in style. As far as I'm aware, Handel revised to suit the forces he had available, and sometimes to suit his audience, rather than to incorporate major stylistic changes. (There are some minor ones, such as the versions of Rejoice greatly with the different time signatures, but from memory I don't think he wrote one as an all-time replacement for the other - he would switch back and forth between the two, depending on circumstances. Correct me if I'm wrong!)

But it could be that I'm missing something subtle. The thing with Handel is that he had such a clearly defined and individual style that it's much easier (for me, at least) to pick out the style as a whole than any temporal variations within it. The one thing I will venture is that I think perhaps he got better at setting words as he grew older, though that could at least partly be due to increasing familiarity with the English language.

Not much use, I'm afraid, but, as I say, I'm not a musicologist.
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