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Classical Notes

Click on Classical: "Messiah" controversy, musical homes, and the standing o

Posted at 8:31 AM on April 28, 2014 by Jay Gabler (1 Comments)
Filed under: Click on Classical


Each Monday morning at 9:15, I join John Birge on Classical MPR to discuss some of the stories we're featuring on our website. Here are the stories we'll be discussing today.

Most listeners hear Handel's Messiah​ as a joyous celebration of the life of Christ, but one musicologist has discovered what he describes as a disturbing anti-Judaic subtext. Michael Marissen took a close look at the libretto assembled by the composer's friend Charles Jennens, and Marissen argues that the text was edited to underline anti-Judaic readings of the prayers and Bible passages, readings that were then common among Christian theologians. I wrote about Marissen's argument, and why the scholar says he still loves Handel's music.

Our contributor Gwen Hoberg is about to become a homeowner for the first time, and she says that what she's most excited about is the music she's going to make there. Read her essay to learn about the various ways Gwen is planning to bring music into her new house, and how she's managed to practice french horn in her apartment for the past ten years without a single complaint from the neighbors.

Also this week, Gwen transcribes a conversation with her fellow horn player Kayla Nelson in which the two discuss the perennially controversial topic of standing ovations. The two agree on something that many audience members have observed but which we don't as often hear from performers: there are way too many standing Os in classical music today, they say. Read Gwen's post​ to find out what they'd rather have audience members do instead of jumping to their feet.

Comments (1)

It really is absurd to view the mores of the past through modern eyes. For centuries the Crucifixion was regarded as a stain against the Jews. It was regarded as a Christians duty to seek the conversion of Jews to Christianity. That would have been the norm at the time of Handel and for a lot later. When I was at school the Catholic liturgy contained a prayer for the conversion of perfidious Jews. Yes, that was the title of the prayer. I think it was Pope John 23rd that ended that.
If we are going to view the past though our narrow vision we won't have much art left.

Posted by Mark Carter | April 29, 2014 8:47 PM