Handel's The King Shall Rejoice Essay

Handel's The King Shall Rejoice Essay

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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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