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George Frederic Handel, like many composers of his time, traveled and lived in a number of European countries and cities in Germany and Italy before finally settling in London, England. As a German-born expatriate, Handel was a favorite with the British royalty and nobility, composing many pieces of music by commission. His body of work included operas, oratorios, chamber music, organ pieces but at this time of the year, his best known work is the oratorio Messiah.

The Messiah first premiered in Dublin in 1742 during Lent and was meant as a secular piece — after all it was based on the text in the King James’ Bible and all in English not Latin. If performed in its entirety, the Messiah is over four hours long with solos, choruses and a full orchestral accompaniment.

For many, Christmas isn’t Christmas without a rousing chorus of Hallelujah and there are many variants of Handel’s original — Too Hot to Handel, or Sing-a-long Messiah where the audience perform as part of the chorus. If you enjoy choral music, make it part of your holiday tradition: Hallelujah!


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