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The 1946 production of Purcell’s Fairy Queen at Covent Garden to celebrate the reopening of the Royal Opera House as the nation’s first state-funded opera house was one the emblematic events marking the English artistic revival in the early years of the country’s reconstruction and indicated the elites’ will to create a national opera as successful as ballet already was, to develop state patronage and to educate the new audiences won over to music by the war. The choice of Purcell’s semi-opera, for an opera house whose aim was originally to stage operas in English written by English composers to be sung by English singers, may seem an obvious one yet resulted from the gradual displacing of Handel as the emblematic English composer in popular as well as educated opinion.


This paper aims at showing how the élites of the Royal College of Music and the English Musical Renaissance of the late 19th and early 20th centuries deliberately attempted to develop the figure of Henry Purcell as a rival to Handel and Bach in their will to avail themselves of a glorious English musical past to match those of France, Italy and Germany. Handel, celebrated by the Crystal Palace Festival or parodied by Sullivan in his Savoy Operas, was immensely popular. His oratorios, along with Mendelssohn’s, Gounod’s or Dvorak’s ones, constituted the basic musical of English choral societies fed, conservative choices which, for RCM elites, impeded the birth of a new English music. It was to be based on the glorious Tudor past, Folksong and Purcell, as well as on the emulation of such new models as the “three Bs” Bach, Beethoven, Brahms and other Germanic minor prophets like Schumann or Schubert, for the symphony, or the controversial figure of Wagner for opera. As the new narrative of English music was being written, in the first edition of Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1879-1889), in Hubert Parry’s Art of Music of 1893 or in Fuller Maitland’s first edition of The Oxford History of Music (1902), Purcell provided the perfect figure of a genuine English musician to rival J. S Bach as Britain’s true Baroque composer. Yet, despite these efforts, Handel’s English oratorios have remained for many the model to be emulated and thanks to the Barockbegriff they have enjoyed a revival that has consigned some of the English Musical renaissance endeavours to oblivion.


  

Haendel après Haendel :

Construction, renommée, influence de Haendel et de la figure haendélienne

N° 14o

Gilles Couderc

Université de Caen Basse-Normandie

Move over, Handel! : The English Musical Renaissance and the Quest for New Musical Heroes

Retour

Préface

Donald Burrows
Donald Burrows - Turning the Handel

Albert Gier
Albert Gier - Haendel à Karlsruhe

Adrian La Salvia
Adrian La Salvia - La Renaissance de Haendel au miroir des traductions

Annette Landgraf
Annette Landgraf - The German Belletristic Literature about Handel

Pierre Degott
Pierre Degott - From Facts to Fiction

Matthew Gardner
Matthew Gardner - The Great Mr Handel

Michael Burden
Michael Burden - When Giulio Cesare was not Handel's Giulio Cesare

Brian Robins
Brian Robins - John Marsh and Handel

Lionel Duguet
Lionel Duguet - La réception du Messie en France au XIXème siècle

Denis Tchorek
Denis Tchorek - Un exemple de transfert culturel

Steven Young
Steven Young - Handel Redux

Gilles Couderc
Gilles Couderc - Move over, Handel!

Jean-Philippe Heberlé
Jean-Philippe Heberlé - L'héritage haendélien et Michael Tippett

Ivan Curkovic
Ivan Curkovic - Men and/or Women

Maja Vukusic Zorica
Maja Vukusic Zorica - Les périgrinations du genre

Yaiza Bermudez Cubas
Yaiza Bermudez Cubas - Reflexiones de la musica del Haendel en el cine

Nathalie Vincent-Arnaud
Nathalie Vincent-Arnaud - Les métamorphoses de Terpsichore

Françoise Deconinck
Françoise Deconinck - Sharp, Haendel, Nares et les autres

Pierre Dubois
Pierre Dubois - The Changing Faces of Handelian Historiography