music for Holy Monday/Seder Evening – “He smote all the first-born of Egypt” from Georg Friedrich Händel’s Oratorio “Israel in Egypt” HWV 54

by ada

I seem to stick to Big Names this year, for today’s music is written by nobody else than Georg Friedrich Händel, who is considered to be the most important person if it comes to English Baroque music – even if he was actually a German. Well, that’s how things worked in the 18th century – the most important person in the history of French Baroque music; the man who called the famous French style that ruled the music scene of the 18th century, to life; the man who got the idea of synchronizing the bow movements of the violins in the orchestra first; the man who was smart enough to secure the publishing rights in whole France for himself alone, the man who is known as Jean-Baptiste Lully was, in fact, an Italian. So, if it comes to style, nationality plays never that big role we like to imagine.

Händel spent most of his musically active years in England. His music is as English, as it can be – biblical stories set in pompous orchestral style with heavy choir settings and lots of brass and drums. This oratorio, Israel in Egypt, tells the Passover story – and this aria (well, it’s actually no aria, it’s a choir movement) is about the last of the ten plagues. Enjoy the nice Quintfallsequenz starting at 1:35 :o)

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