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What features of Handel's The King Shall Rejoice have made the anthem so memorable to the present day?

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Introduction

H/w 13/11/02 What features of Handel's The King Shall Rejoice have made the anthem so memorable to the present day? '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. ...read more.

Middle

This can be seen throughout the work, from the opening choral block chords of 'The King shall rejoice, the King shall rejoice in thy strength, O Lord' (bar 29) to the contrapuntal ecstasy of the drawn-out closing 'Alleluia'. (Bar 359). From the outset the piece shows it's tone, with a rapidly move continuo in quavers with frequent triads moving up the octave. This gives a good sense of forward momentum. The 7/6 suspension at bar 5 is just one example of this signature of Handel's. The composer can also be identified by his regular use of perfect cadences and also the less common Phrygian cadence (4b-5). The main motifs of the piece tend to come around the trills in the first movement and indeed trills are present throughout the four movements. One analysis of the anthem gives three major ideas, X, Y and Z. These are repeated throughout the piece, giving it balance and something for the listener's ear to identify with and ground them within the piece. ...read more.

Conclusion

In the second movement the music is less forceful and this contrast between movements lets the forceful parts be more effective. The second movement also introduces Hemiolas, another characteristic of Handel. The last movement starts with only 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 satisfied. 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. Ben Sellers. ...read more.

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