This Day in Christian History: March 23
March 23, 1743: Handel's Messiah is Performed for the First Time in London
|George Frideric Handel|
The success of the English productions so outshined the Italian versions that Handel abandoned the Italian productions all together.
Charles Jennens had composed the text for a new opera and charged Handel with the creation of music to accompany it. In a letter to his friend, Jennens said "I hope [Handel] will lay out his whole Genius & Skill upon it, that the Composition may excell all his former Compositions, as the Subject excells every other subject. The Subject is Messiah"
London's chilly reception of The Messiah led Handel to reduce the planned performance season of the opera, which was much to Jennen's annoyance. The friendship between Jennen and Handel suffered during this time.
The Messiah was performed twice, and then shelved for four years. When it was later reintroduced, it was far better received. Despite its rough beginnings, Handel's Messiah has gone on to become on of the most famous compositions in Christian history.