Every time the "Halleluiah" chorus from Handel's Messiah cranks up, people stand up. Why? Well, it's said the King stood up at the premiere and ever since, we've all done likewise, though conductor Paul McCreesh thinks it's kind of a silly tradition. He doesn't care if you stand of not, but the whole tradition likely got started completely by accident:
"Probably the king got up because he was looking at his mistress in another box. And of course if the king gets up ... everyone gets up. It was probably a complete accident. But people like traditions, stories, Christmas trees. So if it makes them happy, they can stand up."
While the chorus brings a smile to the faces of audience members, Handel himself was depressed and on the brink of ruin the moment he created some of the most glorious music ever written. Witnesses report that Handel was in the midst of writing his masterpiece and was found weeping at the keyboard, absolutely overcome with the beauty and majesty flowing from his pen. And it wasn't just Handel that knew he had a blockbuster. At the premier the Dublin Journal wrote:
"Words are wanting to express the exquisite Delight Messiah afforded to the admiring crowded Audience. The Sublime, the Grand, and the Tender, adapted to the most elevated, majestick, and moving Words, conspired to transport and charm the ravished Heart and Ear."
Messiah made Handel a famous and wealthy man and its message continues to resonate nearly 300 years later.
This Easter Sunday at noon, join Alison Young for the complete story from prophecy to resurrection in a stunning live concert with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Minnesota Chorale and soloists conducted by early music specialist Paul McCreesh.
This broadcast of Handel's Messiah is supported by Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church and Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis.