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Donald Burrows

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199737369

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199737369.001.0001

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Music for Germany and Italy, 1706–10

Music for Germany and Italy, 1706–10

(p.57) Chapter Three Music for Germany and Italy, 1706–10

Donald Burrows

Oxford University Press

This chapter looks into the earliest efforts of the musical composition of George Frideric Handel in order to determine his starting genre and style. It begins with an examination of Almira, which provides the basis for stylistic judgments about his early music. According to the complementing libretto, Almira is classified as a ‘Sing-Spiel’. The score shows Handel applying the style he learned during his time at Halle: contrapuntal and over-ornate but generally characterized by a strong harmonic progression. The chapter then discusses Dixit Dominus, where the elements of his grand style can all be seen — the chordal outbursts, and a variety of choral textures: straightforward imitation; counterpoint on two subjects; the interplay of answering and combining voices; closely overlapping vocal entries; and one voice versus the rest. Some of these elements are also found on his other works composed in Italy, where Handel emerged as a true composer of concerted music for choir and orchestra.

Keywords:   George Frideric Handel, Almira, stylistic judgments, Sing-Spiel, contrapuntal, over-ornate, harmonic progression, Dixit Dominus, chordal outbursts, choral textures

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