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Easton Bell
Easton Bell

The Trumpet Part II |WORK|

I have had students complain of stiffness in the neck and/or arms brought on by extended practice sessions. The trumpet is not that heavy but anything hanging out in an unusual position can put an extra load on those affected muscles. If you are preparing for a tiring recital and your arms and/or neck are/is taking a hit, the best place to look for the cause is in your left hand. When we tire and begin running on reserve we many times will grip the instrument tighter than what is required. This added tension will travel from the hand to the forearm, the biceps and eventually affect your neck.

The Trumpet Part II

I taught for 30 years at the University of Northern Iowa, School of Music. You can follow my latest musical interests on Facebook, The Trumpet Blog, as well as browse my extensive library of trumpet sheet music.

My Last post stated that for three reasons the practice of long tones should be discontinued. I gave my reasoning for this rebellious statement and in this post I will give the trumpet world an alternative concept which should prove my assertions about the benefits of a more musical form of long tones.

Messiah (HWV 56), the English-language oratorio composed by George Frideric Handel in 1741, is structured in three parts. This listing covers Part II in a table and comments on individual movements, reflecting the relation of the musical setting to the text. Part I begins with the prophecy of the Messiah and his birth, shows the annunciation to the shepherds and reflects the Messiah's deeds on earth. Part II covers the Passion in nine movements including the oratorio's longest movement, an air for alto He was despised, then mentions death, resurrection, ascension, and reflects the spreading of the Gospel and its rejection. The part is concluded by a scene called "God's Triumph" that culminates in the Hallelujah chorus. Part III of the oratorio concentrates on Paul's teaching of the resurrection of the dead and Christ's glorification in heaven.

When Handel composed Messiah in London, he was already a successful and experienced composer of Italian operas. He had started in 1713 to also compose sacred music on English texts, such as the Utrecht Te Deum and Jubilate. He set many oratorios on English libretti. In Messiah he used practically the same musical means as for those works, namely a structure based on chorus and solo singing. Only a few movements are a duet or a combination of solo and chorus. The solos are typically a combination of recitative and aria. The arias are called Air or Song, some of them have da capo form, but rarely in a strict sense, repeating a first section after a sometimes contrasting middle section. Handel finds various ways to use the format freely, in order to convey the text. The movements marked "Recitative" (Rec.) are "secco", only accompanied by the basso continuo. Recitatives marked "Accompagnato" (Acc.) are accompanied by additional string instruments. Handel uses four voice parts in both solo and chorus, soprano (S), alto (A), tenor (T) and bass (B). Only once is the chorus divided in an upper chorus and a lower chorus, it is SATB otherwise. The orchestra scoring is simple: oboes, strings and basso continuo of harpsichord, violoncello, violone and bassoon. Two trumpets and timpani highlight selected movements, such as the closing movements of Part II, Hallelujah. Handel uses a cantus firmus on long repeated notes especially to illustrate God's speech and majesty, such as "King of Kings" in the Hallelujah chorus.[6]

To emphasise the movements in which the oboes (ob) and the rarely used trumpets (tr) and timpani (ti) play, the summary below does not mention the regular basso continuo and the strings in movements. Details on the development of keys, different tempo markings times within a movement are given in notes on the individual movements.

Scene 1 is the longest scene of the oratorio and reflects the Passion, in Jennens' words "Christ's Passion; the scourging and the agony on the cross", in nine individual movements, including the longest one, the Air for alto "He was despised".[3] Part II is the only part opened by a chorus, and continues to be dominated by choral singing. Block observes that the emphasis on the Passion differs from modern western popular Christianity, which prefers to stress the nativity of the Messiah.[4]

The thoughts are continued in an earlier verse from the same psalm (Psalms 68:11) as a chorus in B-flat major. "The Lord gave the word" is sung by just two voice parts, "Great was the company of the preachers" expanded for four parts with long coloraturas on "company".

The three-part structure of the work approximates to that of Handel's three-act operas, with the "parts" subdivided by Jennens into "scenes". Each scene is a collection of individual numbers or "movements" which take the form of recitatives, arias and choruses.[15] There are two instrumental numbers, the opening Sinfony[n 3] in the style of a French overture, and the pastoral Pifa, often called the "pastoral symphony", at the mid-point of Part I.[18]

The music for Messiah was completed in 24 days of swift composition. Having received Jennens's text some time after 10 July 1741, Handel began work on it on 22 August. His records show that he had completed Part I in outline by 28 August, Part II by 6 September and Part III by 12 September, followed by two days of "filling up" to produce the finished work on 14 September. This rapid pace was seen by Jennens not as a sign of ecstatic energy but rather as "careless negligence", and the relations between the two men would remain strained, since Jennens "urged Handel to make improvements" while the composer stubbornly refused.[25] The autograph score's 259 pages show some signs of haste such as blots, scratchings-out, unfilled bars and other uncorrected errors, but according to the music scholar Richard Luckett the number of errors is remarkably small in a document of this length.[26] The original manuscript for Messiah is now held in the British Library's music collection.[27] It is scored for two trumpets, timpani, two oboes, two violins, viola, and basso continuo.

Before the first performance Handel made numerous revisions to his manuscript score, in part to match the forces available for the 1742 Dublin premiere; it is probable that his work was not performed as originally conceived in his lifetime.[33] Between 1742 and 1754 he continued to revise and recompose individual movements, sometimes to suit the requirements of particular singers.[34] The first published score of Messiah was issued in 1767, eight years after Handel's death, though this was based on relatively early manuscripts and included none of Handel's later revisions.[35]

In early March Handel began discussions with the appropriate committees for a charity concert, to be given in April, at which he intended to present Messiah. He sought and was given permission from St Patrick's and Christ Church cathedrals to use their choirs for this occasion.[40][41] These forces amounted to sixteen men and sixteen boy choristers; several of the men were allocated solo parts. The women soloists were Christina Maria Avoglio, who had sung the main soprano roles in the two subscription series, and Susannah Cibber, an established stage actress and contralto who had sung in the second series.[41][42] To accommodate Cibber's vocal range, the recitative "Then shall the eyes of the blind" and the aria "He shall feed his flock" were transposed down to F major.[33][43] The performance, also in the Fishamble Street hall, was originally announced for 12 April, but was deferred for a day "at the request of persons of Distinction".[36] The orchestra in Dublin comprised strings, two trumpets, and timpani; the number of players is unknown. Handel had his own organ shipped to Ireland for the performances; a harpsichord was probably also used.[44]

The warm reception accorded to Messiah in Dublin was not repeated in London. Indeed, even the announcement of the performance as a "new Sacred Oratorio" drew an anonymous commentator to ask if "the Playhouse is a fit Temple to perform it".[51] Handel introduced the work at the Covent Garden theatre on 23 March 1743. Avoglio and Cibber were again the chief soloists; they were joined by the tenor John Beard, a veteran of Handel's operas, the bass Thomas Rheinhold and two other sopranos, Kitty Clive and Miss Edwards.[52] The first performance was overshadowed by views expressed in the press that the work's subject matter was too exalted to be performed in a theatre, particularly by secular singer-actresses such as Cibber and Clive. In an attempt to deflect such sensibilities, in London Handel had avoided the name Messiah and presented the work as the "New Sacred Oratorio".[53] As was his custom, Handel rearranged the music to suit his singers. He wrote a new setting of "And lo, the angel of the Lord" for Clive, never used subsequently. He added a tenor song for Beard: "Their sound is gone out", which had appeared in Jennens's original libretto but had not been in the Dublin performances.[54]

The 1749 revival at Covent Garden, under the proper title of Messiah, saw the appearance of two female soloists who were henceforth closely associated with Handel's music: Giulia Frasi and Caterina Galli. In the following year these were joined by the male alto Gaetano Guadagni, for whom Handel composed new versions of "But who may abide" and "Thou art gone up on high". The year 1750 also saw the institution of the annual charity performances of Messiah at London's Foundling Hospital, which continued until Handel's death and beyond.[59] The 1754 performance at the hospital is the first for which full details of the orchestral and vocal forces survive. The orchestra included fifteen violins, five violas, three cellos, two double basses, four bassoons, four oboes, two trumpets, two horns and drums. In the chorus of nineteen were six trebles from the Chapel Royal; the remainder, all men, were altos, tenors and basses. Frasi, Galli and Beard led the five soloists, who were required to assist the chorus.[60][n 5] For this performance the transposed Guadagni arias were restored to the soprano voice.[62] By 1754 Handel was severely afflicted by the onset of blindness, and in 1755 he turned over the direction of the Messiah hospital performance to his pupil, J. C. Smith.[63] He apparently resumed his duties in 1757 and may have continued thereafter.[64] The final performance of the work at which Handel was present was at Covent Garden on 6 April 1759, eight days before his death.[63] 041b061a72


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