Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Leopold, Silke. "Israel in Egypt--ein missglückter Glücksfall." In Göttinger Händel-Beiträge 1, edited by Hans Joachim Marx, 35-50. Kassel: Bärenreiter, 1984.

In no other work did Handel borrow more material from his own and other pieces than in the oratorio Israel in Egypt (1738). With the example of the chorus "But the waters overwhelmed their enemies" based on the soprano aria "It is the Lord that ruleth the sea" from the Chandos Anthems, Leopold shows that this extensive borrowing does not result from Handel's "mental illness" in 1737, as has been stated repeatedly, but from his intention to find new possibilities with old material. The physical energy originating in the rhythmical opposition of voices and orchestra in "The waters" contrasts strongly with the purely rhetorical representation of water in "It is the Lord," where the soloist and the bass line flow in the same rhythm. Handel uses these two contrary musical styles to set suitably the two parts of Israel in Egypt: the first part with all the active elements of the exodus and the second part with the contemplative text (e.g. "And with the blast of thy nostrils"). The idea of contrasting the chorus and orchestra shows Handel developing an appropriate musical style for the oratorio by having the orchestra take over the role of the stage setting in the opera.

Index Classifications: 1700s

Contributed by: Andreas Giger

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