Handel's The King Shall Rejoice

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Handel's The King Shall Rejoice

'I beg Your Imperial Highness not to forget Handel's works, since

these will certainly always afford the most excellent food for your

highly developed musical soul which, moreover, is bound ever to

overflow with admiration for that great man.'

Beethoven, 1819

Handel's music has endured centuries, and the fact that The King Shall

Rejoice (TKSR) is studied as a set piece at A level shows it still has

many relevant, interesting and unique styles and qualities to examine.

Handel composed during the Baroque period. Baroque has many

identifiable signatures. For example, much of the music is religious

and is characterised by majestic dotted rhythms and fugal textures,

e.g. in the French Overture.

TKSR follows many of the traditional styles of the Baroque period, and

also Handel's style. The text for The King Shall Rejoice is taken from

the Book of Common Prayer and the Bible. It worships both the King and

God and the whole tone of the piece is of splendour and glory.

It is against the rigid backdrop of English church music that one

should view the style and form of all the Coronation Anthems, which

are constructed from sections of differing key, metre and character.

The relatively frequently changing key (mainly to the dominant and

relative minor) keeps the listener interested and also adds variation

to the music.

The orchestration is typical of the period, with the strings and

continuo providing the core of the accompaniment, the brass being

introduced for bold effects as required and again, this occasional

adding of brass gives the anthem the texture to stop it being



... middle of paper ...

...the voices and continuo until bar

299 where another large-scale entry is heard, setting the listener up

for the dramatic finale. Here Handel splits up the alto and bass to

give extra tonal harmony and this is all in anticipation of the

finale. Handel has played many of his textural cards by the last

movement and now must find other ways to hold the listener's

attention. He achieves this by bring back some ideas from previous

movements. A slow and steady crescendo leads to a dramatic pause at

bar 358 before the final, massive, Alleluia leaves the listener


Handel's intention was to impress and stun the many important people

at the coronation. If the performance had been decent (unfortunately

it wasn't) then the effect would have been massive. Handel set out to

create a memorable piece and he achieved it.
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