Wednesday, 13 April 2016

13‭ ‬April‭ ‬1742:‭ ‬George Frederic Handel conducted the first performance of his‭ ‬Messiah,‭ ‬in the New Music Hall,‭ ‬Fishamble Street,‭ ‬on this day.‭

In the late summer of the year‭ ‬1741‭ ‬the Duke of Devonshire,‭ ‬the Viceroy of Ireland,‭ ‬invited Handel to Dublin.‭ ‬Moreover,‭ ‬the Governors of Mercer's Hospital,‭ ‬and of the Charitable Infirmary,‭ ‬had asked Handel to compose something‭ ‬special in aid of the Dublin sick.‭ ‬This special work,‭ ‬the immortal‭ ‬Messiah,‭ ‬was finished by Handel on September‭ ‬14th,‭ ‬1741,‭ ‬having been written in three weeks--a marvellous‭ ‬tour de force.‭ ‬On November‭ ‬18th,‭ ‬1741,‭ ‬Handel arrived in Dublin and spent the Winter in giving performances in the City and working on drafts of Messiah.‭ ‬He took a house in Abbey Street near Liffey Street where he received visitors.‭

Handel's first concert was on December‭ ‬23rd,‭ ‬consisting of‭ ‬L'Allegro,‭ ‬with two concertos for several instruments,‭ ‬and a concerto on the organ.‭ ‬But it had become known that Handel was planning something special to mark his Season in Dublin and expectation grew that it would be a musical event of great importance.‭ ‬An open air Rehearsal Concert some days prior to the formal opening drew large crowds and was met with open approval.

In apprehension of overcrowding at the performance,‭ ‬posted‭ ‬The Dublin Journal on this day the following notice:

‭ ‬The Stewards of the Charitable Music Society request the Favour of the Ladies not to come with Hoops this Day to the Musick-Hall in Fishamble Street:‭ ‬The Gentlemen are desired to come without their Swords.

In its Edition of‭ ‬17‭ ‬April‭ ‬1742‭ ‬the publication wrote that:‭

On Tuesday last Mr.‭ ‬Handel’s Sacred Grand Oratorio,‭ ‬the MESSIAH,‭ ‬was performed at the New Musick-Hall in Fishamble-street‭; ‬the best Judges have allowed it to be the most finished piece of Musick.‭ ‬Words are wanting to express the exquisite delight it afforded to the admiring,‭ ‬crowded audience.‭ ‬The Sublime,‭ ‬Grand and Tender,‭ ‬adapted to the most elevated,‭ ‬majestick and moving Words conspired to transport and charm the ravished heart and ear.‭ ‬It is but Justice to Mr.‭ ‬Handel that the World should know,‭ ‬he generously gave the money arising from this grand performance,‭ ‬to be equally shared by the Society for relieving Prisoners,‭ ‬the Charitable Infirmary and Mercer’s Hospital...

This great opening Performance was carried out with the help of the choirs from St.‭ ‬Patrick's and Christ Church.‭ ‬The‭ ‬£400‭ ‬proceeds were given to Mercer's Hospital,‭ ‬the Charitable Infirmary and for the relief of prisoners.

Handel spent the rest of the Summer giving repeat performances of his many works including the‭ ‬Messiah.‭ ‬He also spent some time in the City of Cork.‭ ‬He left Ireland on Friday,‭ ‬August‭ ‬13th,‭ ‬never to return but his time here marked one of the highest points of his later career as a Musician.‭ ‬He died in London in‭ ‬1759‭ ‬and was buried in Westminster Abbey.‭

Handel is the greatest composer who ever lived.‭
‬I would bare my head and kneel at his grave.‭


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