The comprehensive journals of the amateur musician and composer John Marsh (1752-1828) provide much that is of value in assessing the place of Handel’s music in English musical life in the immediate years after his death. Marsh’s writings tell of a combination of practical experience as a musician in the provincial cities of Salisbury, Canterbury and Chichester with attendance as an observer at such major events as the Handel Commemoration of 1784 and major provincial music festivals. To these and many of the polemical issues of the day he brought a pragmatic and clear-headed mind that make his observations particularly valuable. His extensive experience of Handel as both player and auditor centred particularly on the oratorios, the Handelian repertoire most valued in Georgian England. He gives us hints of performing forces and styles, both before and after the 1784 Commemoration, a watershed for the performance of Handel’s oratorios that established a new vogue for performing grandiose extracts of the oratorios rather than complete works. Such a change in emphasis underpins Georgian elevation of Handel to the status of a national purveyor of the religious sublime.
Haendel après Haendel :
Construction, renommée, influence de Haendel et de la figure haendélienne
John Marsh and Handel