London, Greater London NW3 2JR
Highgate Choral Society
“See, the conqu’ring hero comes!”
Handel began composing Judas Maccabaeus in 1745 but abandoned it in favour of his Occasional Oratorio, which was performed in early 1746 as a piece of propaganda encouraging English loyalists against the Jacobite invasion lead by Bonnie Prince Charlie. Only later was Handel sure that a victory oratorio would be necessary and returned to the score of Judas Maccabaeus, completing it by 11 August. His librettist, Thomas Morell, used as his main source the First Book of Maccabees, which deals with the Jewish revolt against the Seleucid Empire in the 2nd century BC.
This rarely performed oratorio draws deliberate parallels with the defeat of the Jacobite forces in the violent battle of Culloden and according to Morell was “design’d as a compliment to the Duke of Cumberland upon his returning victorious from Scotland”. High drama, with one of Handel’s most famous choruses, See, the conqu’ring hero, the rousing call to arms, Sound an alarm! and the ravishing aria, Father of Heav’n.