How Handel’s “Messiah” Became a Holiday Tradition

On Tuesday, December 15, 2020, Dr. Gil Harel explored Handel’s 1741 masterpiece, “Messiah.” Perhaps no work in the canon of Western art music better projects the ‘holiday spirit’ than Handel’s 1741 masterpiece, “Messiah.” Though it wasn’t conceived as a “Christmas…

How Handel’s "Messiah" Became a Holiday Tradition

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On Tuesday, December 15, 2020, Dr. Gil Harel explored Handel’s 1741 masterpiece, “Messiah.”

Perhaps no work in the canon of Western art music better projects the ‘holiday spirit’ than Handel’s 1741 masterpiece, “Messiah.” Though it wasn’t conceived as a “Christmas Piece,” it has historically been performed during that season and is a winter highlight for many a concertgoer.

During this program, Professor Gil Harel will take you through the history of Handel’s most celebrated oratorio with a discussion of its libretto, performance history, and of course, its music. We will see how a work with such an eschatological story trajectory became archetypal “Christmas Music,” and posit theories as to why the work has enjoyed such lasting popularity over the past 280 years.

Though most concert halls will be dark this December, we invite you to experience the light of Handel’s “Messiah” during this special program.

About the Presenter
Gil Harel (PhD, Brandeis University) is a musicologist and music theorist whose interests include styles ranging from western classical repertoire to jazz. Previously, he has served on the faculty at CUNY Baruch College, where he was awarded the prestigious “Presidential Excellence Award for Distinguished Teaching,” as well as the Southwestern University of Finance and Economics in Chengdu, China.

Currently, he teaches at Naugatuck Valley Community College, where he was presented with the “Merit Award for Exemplary Service to the College.” At NVCC, Dr. Harel conducts the college chorale, a cappella ensemble, teaches music history and theory, and serves as musical director of theater productions. Outside of teaching, he enjoys staying active as a pianist and vocalist.

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