This paper focuses on important dates in the French reception of Messiah, such as 1873, for instance, with the first full performance of Handel’s masterpiece, and 1909 with the creation of the French Handel Society. It aims at investigating the reasons why the French were so long in adopting Handel’s music. Based on documents consulted in the BnF such as newspapers, concert programmes, translations and transcriptions, it follows the reception theories of Hans Robert Jauss in order to assess the various forms of expectations from the French public.
The article thus demonstrates that an oratorio like Messiah did not meet with the French public’s expectations, the political contexts of the nineteenth century favouring the far more martial and nationalistic Judas Maccabaeus, a work with which the French people, especially in the aftermath of the 1870-71 war against Prussia, could more readily identify.
Haendel après Haendel :
Construction, renommée, influence de Haendel et de la figure haendélienne