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210 THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO QUARTERLY Samuels has-centred his attention on Adams' abundant writings as student, professor, and journalist; and these literary works he has set with .all the care of excellent scholarship in the background of the life and thought of Cambridge, Boston, London, and Washington in Henry Adams' time. Nor is the remoter background wanting. Most noticeably Mr. Samuels has written with adniirable understanding of England's great eighteenthcentury tradition of political writing which the young Adams clearly wished to follow, the tradition of Swift, Walpole, Burke, and Gibbo!).. Fin~y, Mr. Samuels-has written with a nice realization that he was dealing with irony. HANDEL AND DELIUS* SIR ERNEST MAcMILLAN Like many great men, George Frederic Handel, composer, impresario, man of the world; eclectic, plagiarist, and, for two hundred years, musical idol of the British people, has suffered .at the hands of his admirers perhaps·more severely than at those of his detrac.tors. Fortunately his most popular work is also his greatest masterpiece and stands in no danger of being forgotten , but it is regrettable that so much almost ·equally fine music should be Jeft to gather dust on our library shelves. "The Messiah" can always be counted upon as "safe box-office"·; performances of other Handelian works, on this continent at least, ·are at the.best highly speculative. Still more regrettable is it that "Messiah" (the title by the way was alm:ost .always used without the article in Handel's day) should have become barnacled with so many."traditions}'-many of them alien to the composer's style.. While the sketchy character of the original -score necessitates some additions, a long succession of "additional accompaniments" has con1e wellnigh to obliterating the simple outlines of I-Iandel's string Writing. Instrumental interludes and ritomels are mercilessly exdsed to shorten the work and even the order of movements has been changed by conductors who cannot have read the text intelligently, so that- some performances distort the oratorio to a degree that one might almost call travesty.· In his excellent biography of Handel, written in 1909, R. A. Streatfeild remarks : "The stupendous masterpiece, in which Handel released Chris-· tianity from the bondage of fact and wrote the romance of huma:n· redemption in characters of immortal_ fire, is now 'degraded to the·Ievel of a rhild digestive which helps the struggling Nonconformist conscience to tide over the festivities of Christmas. The ceremony of attending a performance of 'The :ry.Iessiah' is to the average Englishman ·as immutable a Christmas institution as going to church or eating ·a slice of turkey."· ~Handel's Messiah: A Touchstone of Taste. By RoBERT MANSON MYERS, New York: Macmillan Co. [Toronto: Macmillan Co. of Canada]. 1948. Pp. xxii, 338. ($5.00) . Deliu.s: A Critical Biography. By ARTHUR HuTCHINGS. .London: Macmillan & Co. (Toronto: Macmillan Co, of Canada]. 1948. Pp. x, 193. ($3.25) REVIEWS 211 .There is sufficient truth in this reproach to explain if not entirely· to justify the jibes often levelled at Handelian oratorio by the musical epicure: it does not, however, represent the whole truth even of 1909---stillless that of 1949. Certainly we at the present time are in a position to study "The Messiah" as Handel wrote it and to appraise it calmly as a work of art. Mr. Myers} _illuminating picture of eighteenth-century England is one of the most valuable of existing contributions to our understanding of its background. Though still in his twenties, Robert Manson Myers is already_ becoming recognized as one of the chief living authorities on Handel. He is nothing if not thorough-: .his "select" bibliography, running to some sixteen pages, includes "only titles of peculiar interest to students of Handel's 'Messiah,'" and does not include references. to such notable literary lights as Pope, Addison, Swift, Dr. Johnson and others who, never~ thdess, figure more or less prominently in the text. .It is to Mr. Myers' credit that, full of youthful enthusiasm for his subject though he is, he maintains a balance of judgment and exercises a care in the selection of his material that win the reader's admiration. The book, in short, fulfils admirably its purpose of picturing the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 210-212
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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