“I hate this piece!” That’s what one of my organ students told me at her lesson yesterday, not just once, but several times.”I hate this piece! It’s just so hard!”
Yes, this is a difficult piece for an organist to play, but one of those “must learn, must do” pieces for organists, since so many choirs sing it and organists are called upon to accompany them. I think the first time I tried to play the piece was sometime in high school, and I do remember struggling. After all, the organist is playing an orchestral reduction, or transcription of the piece, meaning that the work of many instrumentalists has to be reduced to one player, two hands, and two feet.
I can’t remember when it happened, but all of a sudden, I realized I didn’t struggle any longer and everything just fell into place. That’s good, since I will be playing many movements tomorrow at the Kona Choral Society’s performance of Handel Messiah at the Sheraton Kona Resort.
While we are on the subject of Messiah, please let me give you my yearly rant about this work and how to pronounce Handel. First of all, it’s not The Messiah; it’s just Messiah, no “The” in front of it. (An aside — today as I was surfing the Internet, I found out that “Messiah” was chosen as a boy’s name by 811 parents in 2013. Read the ABC story here: “Messiah, King Rise in Popularity for Baby’s Names“) And the website, ohbabynames.com, opined: We’re not going to mince words here; we were quite surprised to see a name like Messiah on the Top 1000 list of American masculine names. You can’t get much bolder with a name like this. We see names like Ace, Prince, King, Major, Maverick and Legend on the American boy’s naming chart today, but Messiah? That sort of makes these other boys look like chumps. Seriously, this one is a head-scratcher. It also appears to be distinctly American; in other words, there aren’t a bunch of Messiahs running around the preschools of Great Britain. As a given name for boys, Messiah first appeared on the U.S. charts in 2005. Although Messiah has only been on the naming charts for less than 10 years, it’s been growing in usage, so what do we know? There are obviously enough parents out there who are unabashedly “anointing” their baby boys with this profoundly spiritual moniker, enough so to keep the name on the charts. Really. We don’t know if we should praise you or penalize you. We do know one thing, though – you have a lot of moxie. And we’ll give you points for that.
Secondly, please do not pronounce his name “Hahn-del” — the only place people would have pronounced it this way was during the brief three years the composer spent in Italy. He was born in Halle, Germany, and the family name was “Händel,” with an umlaut over the “a” — pronounced “Hen-del.” But since the bulk of Handel’s career was spent in England, and he even became a British citizen, people should pronounce it the same as “handle.” Hear it pronounced below:
And now that we’ve just passed Thanksgiving, I just learned that Handel loved his food, and was in fact obese, according to Jonathan Kandell’s story for the Smithsonian magazine. Handel, who grew increasingly obese over the years, certainly had an intimidating physique. “He paid more attention to [food] than is becoming to any man,” wrote Handel’s earliest biographer, John Mainwaring, in 1760. Artist Joseph Goupy, who designed scenery for Handel operas, complained that he was served a meager dinner at the composer’s home in 1745; only afterward did he discover his host in the next room, secretly gorging on “claret and French dishes.” The irate Goupy produced a caricature of Handel at an organ keyboard, his face contorted into a pig snout, surrounded by fowl, wine bottles and oysters strewn at his feet.
Every year I’ve been determined NOT to go to any Black Friday sales, but this year I found a Kmart special on Christmas decorations good on Thursday only, the day of Thanksgiving beginning at 6 am. But because I still haven’t adjusted to this time zone even though it has been almost two weeks since I returned from Rome, I was wide awake window-shopping on my iPad until 3:30 am and finally fell asleep sometime later. To my horror, it was 8:45 am when I next looked at the clock! I quickly got out the door and found what I wanted at the local Kmart, just 5 minutes away. Thank goodness, there was almost no one at the store, and better yet, no Christmas carols blaring over the store’s sound system. I made my tarte tatin and prepped my vegetable dish to take to the Thanksgiving meal before being picked up at 1:30 pm.
It was a horribly rainy day on Thanksgiving, so our time line was adjusted somewhat since we couldn’t have pupus and cocktails on the lanai. By the time it was all over, I was home by 9:00 pm. Thank you everybody, for another delicious Thanksgiving!