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Handel's Oratorios and Eighteenth-Century Thought
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  • Cited by 12
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    This book has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    2018. Psalms Through the Centuries. p. 416.

    Höink, Dominik 2015. Die Oratorien Louis Spohrs. p. 343.

    Lajosi, Krisztina 2014. National stereotypes and music. Nations and Nationalism, Vol. 20, Issue. 4, p. 628.


    Trainor, Charles 2013. Fielding and the Morality of Music. Neophilologus, Vol. 97, Issue. 4, p. 775.

    Monod, Paul Kleber 2013. A Restoration? 25 years of Jacobite Studies. Literature Compass, Vol. 10, Issue. 4, p. 311.

    Forment, Bruno 2012. Frederick's Athens: crushing superstition and resuscitating the marvellous at the Königliches Opernhaus, Berlin. Cambridge Opera Journal, Vol. 24, Issue. 01, p. 1.

    2008. Handel and Maurice Greene's Circle at the Apollo Academy. p. 1.

    Rogerson, John W. 2007. The Blackwell Companion to the Bible and Culture. p. 286.

    Cruickshanks, Eveline and Erskine-Hill, Howard 2004. The Atterbury Plot. p. 56.

    Kochan, Lionel 2004. The Making of Western Jewry, 1600–1819. p. 150.

    Parker, Mary 2003. Reception of Handel Operas, Then and Now. University of Toronto Quarterly, Vol. 72, Issue. 4, p. 850.

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Book description

In this wide-ranging and challenging book, Ruth Smith shows that the words to Handel's oratorios reflect the events and ideas of their time and have far greater meaning than has hitherto been realized. She explores literature, music, aesthetics, politics and religion to reveal Handel's works as conduits for eighteenth-century thought and sensibility. She provides a full picure of Handel's librettists and shows how their oratorio texts express key moral-political preoccupations and engage with contemporary ideological debate. British identity, the need for national unity, the conduct of war, the role of government, the authority of the Bible, the purpose of literature, the effect of art - these and many more concerns are addressed in the librettos. The book thus enriches our understanding of Handel, his times, and the relationships between music and its intellectual contexts.


‘Ruth Smith’s stimulating and instructive study of Handel’s Oratorios and Eighteenth-Century Thought offers a sweeping recontextualization of the repertory for which Handel is best known ... demonstrates the potential rewards of a truly crossdisciplinary study of Handel’s oeuvre that takes into account the immensely dynamic world in which he lived. We can hope future studies will, like this one, draw on aesthetics, history, literature, politics, religion, and of course music to explore the full contexts and meanings of Handel’s works.’Eighteenth-Century Studies

‘... a wealth of potential meaning is uncovered here which will enrich the work of future scholars.’

Source: Early Music Review

‘This is a book which, like the oratorios themselves, will both delight and instruct, bringing a new and fuller understanding of what those extraordinary works meant to their first audiences.’

Source: Kenneth Nott Musical Times

‘If ever there was a body of work which needed a fresh look, surely this is it, and this is what Ruth Smith offers in her lively and challenging book.’

Source: Musical Times

‘… highly interesting and suggestive book.’

Source: British Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies

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