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Easter Music

April 2, 2021

With limits placed on the number of persons admitted to Mass at my favorite Catholic Church, I reached out to a stack of 78 rpm records and found a production of Handel’s Messiah conducted by Otto Klemperer. First performed in 1742, the Messiah unites Christians at Easter in public enjoyment of Christ’s resurrection.

But Handel did not only compose religious music. He composed many Operas with themes based on Classical literature.

A year before the first performance of Messiah, Handel performed Deidamia which is the story of a love affair between Achilles and the daughter of Licomede,  King of Skyros.

That reminds me of the beautiful music of Christoph Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice which could easily have been based on a story from the Gospels. But Western musical culture was in the grip of an Enlightenment rudely interrupted by the French Revolution.  Marie Antoinette, executed in 1793, was the patroness of Gluck.

We celebrate Handel and dismiss Marie Antoinette and seldom go out of our way to listen to Gluck’s operas.

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