Ten Facts about Handel’s Messiah

Along with The Nutcracker, it’s the most performed classical composition during the Holidays. Here are ten facts about G.F. Handel’s oratorio Messiah (not The Messiah).

1. The music was composed in about 24 days, though Handel recycled other works for Messiah.

2. 259: The number of pages in the final manuscript (not without errors and signs of haste).

3. We often hear huge choirs perform Messiah, but at the premiere there were a whopping 32.

4. The premiere was a benefit concert for several charities, including a prison for debtors and a children’s hospital. In fact, 142 prisoners were released because of the donations raised at the premiere.

5. Messiah should really be performed during Lent. It’s premiere took place on April 13, 1742.

6. Mozart first heard Messiah in 1777 in Mannheim. Excerpts were performed in the US in 1770.

7. Handel’s original orchestration only called for strings and continuo, and very little trumpet and timpani.

8. In 1865, Boston held a performance that included over 600 in the chorus.

9. Sir Henry Wood used 3500 singers in the first recording of Messiah in 1926 for Columbia.

10. Sir Thomas Beecham recorded the first complete performance in 1928.

Here our broadcast of Messiah, in its entirety, from Trinity Church, December 24th at 1pm.

Arts Break with Erin Keane

This weekend’s suggestions from Erin Keane includes a tip of the hat to Dickens with “King’s of Christmas” at The Bard’s Town, the next InKY reading series, also at The Bard’s Town, and one of the most affordable art shows in town – perfect for that last minute shopper.

Artsbreak with Erin Keane


Every Thursday at 3:30pm, Erin Keane will give us her picks for the weekend shows, concerts and other arts events around Louisville. This first episode is heavy on the holiday shows. if you go to the shows, let us know what you think!

Audio MP3

A Christmas Carol, Actors Theatre of Louisville, opens Thursday, runs through Dec. 23 http://wfpl.org/post/occupy-fleet-street-dickens-christmas-carol-highlights-economic-inequality

The Nutcracker, Louisville Ballet, through Dec. 23, WHITNEY HALL  http://wfpl.org/post/cultural-marker-nutcracker-returns-live-music

Chanukah Chappens, The Bard’s Town, SATURDAY, two performances (7 and 8:30 p.m.)http://wfpl.org/post/chanukah-chappens-kicking-eight-nights-light

“Velma and Louise’s Holiday Balls” http://wfpl.org/post/pandora-fills-niche-irreverent-gay-themed-holiday-shows


Louisville Chorus

Lou Chorus - Bethlehem

The Louisville Chorus is very busy this holiday season with 3 performances in December. Music Director Daniel Spurlock talks to Classical 90.5’s Alan Brandt about the December 8th “Christmas Wonderland” concert in New Albany and the Christmas with Brass and Voices concerts December 9th and 15th in LaGrange and Louisville.

Audio MP3

Ten Nutcracker Facts

Before you head to see this year’s production of The Nutcracker (Louisville Ballet performances start 12/8), here are some enlightening facts about one of the most popular ballets.

1. Choreographer Marius Petipa micromanaged Tchaikovsky, dictating the tempos and number of bars in each movement of the score.

2. The premiere received mixed reviews. Dancers were called “pudgy” and “insipid” by one critic, and “charming” by another. The score was probably the most successful part of the production.

3. Tchaikovsky took a break from writing the music to visit the United States, where he conducted concerts to open Carnegie Hall.

4. Clocking in at around 85 minutes, the original version is shorter than Tchaikovsky’s other two well-known ballets: Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty.

5. An abridged suite of the music, containing about a third of the original numbers, was premiered in 1892 and was a hit.

6. The first full US performance took place on December 24, 1944, by the San Francisco Ballet.

7. E.T.A. Hoffman’s original tale is much darker and intended more for adults.

8. In the original tale by Hoffman, the main character is called Marie, not Clara as in the ballet.

9. Nutcrackers were first used in the 15th century, and were developed in rural Germany.

10. Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn arranged and recorded a jazz version of Tchaikovsky’s score in 1960 for Columbia Records. The “Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy” is changed to “Sugar Rum Cherry.”