Submission Title

Performance of "Let the Bright Seraphim" (from Samson, an oratorio) by George Frideric Handel

Location

Vivian A. Bull Music Center: Delkin Recital Hall

Subject Area

Music

Description

Handel’s oratorio Samson was first performed in London in 1743. Written shortly after his celebrated Messiah, it soon fell out of favor; however, several selected numbers have retained their popularity to this day. The libretto is based on Samson Agonistes, John Milton’s dramatization of the biblical book of Judges. In “Let the Bright Seraphim,” an Israelite woman calls upon heavenly hosts to commemorate Samson’s heroic death and triumph over the Philistines. The piece is an example of the archetypal genre of Baroque vocal music, the da capo aria. Da capo arias are cast in ternary form – a structure in three parts consisting of an opening section (A), a contrasting episode (B), and a return to the opening statement (A’) that typically incorporates added ornamentation to showcase the virtuosic abilities of the singer. Interestingly, the da capo aria’s formal contrasts do not necessarily correlate to textual changes, as is the case in “Let the Bright Seraphim.” This rigidity of the musical form with respect to the text led to increasing criticism and declining popularity of the da capo aria at the end of the 18th century.

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May 6th, 2:00 PM May 6th, 3:00 PM

Performance of "Let the Bright Seraphim" (from Samson, an oratorio) by George Frideric Handel

Vivian A. Bull Music Center: Delkin Recital Hall

Handel’s oratorio Samson was first performed in London in 1743. Written shortly after his celebrated Messiah, it soon fell out of favor; however, several selected numbers have retained their popularity to this day. The libretto is based on Samson Agonistes, John Milton’s dramatization of the biblical book of Judges. In “Let the Bright Seraphim,” an Israelite woman calls upon heavenly hosts to commemorate Samson’s heroic death and triumph over the Philistines. The piece is an example of the archetypal genre of Baroque vocal music, the da capo aria. Da capo arias are cast in ternary form – a structure in three parts consisting of an opening section (A), a contrasting episode (B), and a return to the opening statement (A’) that typically incorporates added ornamentation to showcase the virtuosic abilities of the singer. Interestingly, the da capo aria’s formal contrasts do not necessarily correlate to textual changes, as is the case in “Let the Bright Seraphim.” This rigidity of the musical form with respect to the text led to increasing criticism and declining popularity of the da capo aria at the end of the 18th century.