Perhaps one of the most well know pieces of classical music is Handel’s Messiah, otherwise knows as the Hallelujah Chorus. What you probably don’t know is a little about its composer, George Frideric Handel and his story of personal trial to triumph.
Described by author Patrick Kavanaugh, in his book about some of the greatest composers of our time, the German-born composer was referred to as an unpredictable composer spending so much of his career basically moving from one failure to another.
By the age of 56 he had acquired significant debts and without some type of miracle, he was on his way to prison (back then bankruptcy wasn’t an option).
It was around this time, he received a letter from a wealthy but somewhat eccentric English landowner named Charles Jennens, one of his past musical partners. Within the pages of this letter, were written a compilation of scriptures from the Old and New Testament in the Bible. For whatever reason, Handel was moved and inspired and he instantly threw himself into writing. In only 24 days, Handel completed an astounding 260 pages of orchestration; all three parts of the composition including what we now know as the Hallelujah chorus.
He debuted the composition in Dublin on the 13th April 1742 at a charitable benefit dinner held by Mercer’s Hospital to help the sick. As a result of the money he raised and the incredible reception to his piece of work, he was able to donate large a portion of his proceeds to a debtors prison in Dublin– setting hundreds of men free that very day. Whilst it was poverty that was the driving force behind this work, it resulted in the freedom of others. He continued over the rest of his life to be generous and donate finances towards the poor, orphaned, widowed and sick.
Beethoven remarked about Handel in 1824, “Handel was the greatest composer who ever lived. I would bare my head and kneel at his grave.”
So what about us?
Do you have something still to be accomplished? Or are you feeling like you want to give up?
Whilst Handel faced trials and obstacles in both his professional and personal life, despite this, he believed in his legacy and the impact he could have with his gifts and talents.
Don’t give up, your ‘hallelujah chorus’ could be just around the corner!