Song for St Cecilia's Day (HWV 76) (Full Score, hardback)

Handel, George Frideric

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Handel Song for St Cecilia's Day (HWV 76) (Full Score, hardback)
London 1739

In the autograph, the “little Cecilia Ode”, composed in September 1739, is superscribed with “Song”; the title used in contemporary sources, such as the textual source by John Dryden, and taken over by the Halle Handel Edition is “Song for St Cecilia’s Day”. With this work Handel contributed to a tradition which prevailed in England in the 17th and 18th centuries and which entailed regular commissions of works in the honour of the ancient martyr and patron saint as well as socially effective performances of these compositions. In the first half of the 18th century, the London audience was accustomed to being presented with three-part operas and oratorios. For this reason, at the premiere the “one-part” Ode was combined with the two-part “Alexander’s Feast” thereby complying with the expected scope of the musical event. The Ode does not offer a dramaturgically presentable action but rather in its seven parts praises music and its effect.

This edition of Handel’s “Song for St Cecilia’s Day” includes in its main part music and text of the premiere’s version. Even though exact information as to which music was played as the instrumental introduction of the Ode has not come down to us, this edition renders the introductory pieces to be found in the autograph score. Appendix I presents early versions of three movements which were shortened or considerably extended prior to the premiere. Appendix II includes three pieces which represent alterations and a new setting of the aria “The soft complaining flute”, all put together by Handel for performances after the premiere with the intention to do justice to the new singers in his ensemble.

Blaut, Stephan
Baerenreiter Germany

Additional Information

Baroque Period
Mixed Voices