Handel's Muse: Patterns of Creation in His Oratorios and Musical Dramas, 1743-1751

Handel's frequent and extensive alterations to his scores yield much valuable information on musical and extra-musical matters. This book represents the most thorough study to date of Handel's compositional procedures in his English oratorios and musical dramas. David Hurley examines six major works composed between 1743 and 1751 (Semele, Hercules, Belshazzar, Solomon, Susanna, and Jephtha), explores changes in the autograph scores, and, where possible, traces the progress of musical ideas from sketches and/or borrowings through drafts to the first performance version. By studying recurring types of revisions, Hurley identifies Handel's regular musical concerns while also addressing changes arising from specific dramatic situations. The later chapters of the book offer fresh insight into the relationship between music and text, evaluating for the first time the role of word painting in Handel's compositional process and furthering our knowledge about Handel's interactions with librettists and singers during the oratorio years.