(Best Bits)

Saturday 16 March 2019 7.30 pm
All Saints Church, Inmans Row,
Woodford IG8 0NH

A concert for All Saints,
Woodford Wells Organ Fund

Register NOW

The haste with which Handel composed Messiah is well known; within a period of just over three weeks the oratorio, from first note to last, was complete. This was in 1741. Apart from scratchings out and ink blots in abundance, the score reveals one major sign of haste; Handel barely had time to write out the orchestration. Only the basic string parts and a handful of movements with trumpets and timpani are to be found. There was nothing else. Convention added a couple of oboes and a bassoon doubling vocal parts (by guessing what Handel possibly wanted), but that’s that. Tough luck if you were a flautist, clarinettist (especially as your instrument didn’t exist in 1741) or horn player - you were surplus to requirements. Even the slightly luckier trumpets and timps had long hours of sitting about with nothing to do.

All this changed in 1789. Baron Gottfried von Swieten (Antiquarian and Philanthropist) asked Mozart to pull Messiah into line a bit. It had been performed a few times in Germany in English and, under CPE Bach’s direction, had picked up a German text by 1775. But the orchestration - wasn’t it just a bit primitive? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to hear Handel’s music underpinned by a full symphony orchestra? So Mozart set to work, and Der Messias took shape. Mozart employed a couple of copyists to set out what Handel had actually written, leaving blank staves for the “missing” instruments. He then added flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons and horns, and additional trumpet and timpani parts to give the orchestra symphonic proportions.

A performance of the most famous choruses from Messiah, but with the 1789 orchestration, is planned by Woodford Symphony Orchestra and the choir of All Saints’ Woodford Wells. (We will be singing in English, which still neatly fits Mozart’s version.) Other singers are invited to be part of this performance on a semi-scratch basis.

We will be using the Watkins Shaw edition. Please bring your own copy if you have on.

There is no charge for participation.

Optional rehearsal with piano:
Friday 15 March 7.30 pm.

Rehearsal with orchestra:
Saturday 16 March 3.45 - 5.30 pm.

Saturday 16 March 7.30 pm.

For further information,
feel free to contact

Philip Norman
07939 064 247

Rehearsal tracks will be made available.
At present, tracks are being made for two choirs for Christmas,
the Messiah tracks will be made when these others are completed.

To register for this project, please fill in the form below:





I will be able to attend the piano
rehearsal on 15 March:



Copy of the music:

Comments or Questions:

Hallelujah Chorus, Handel's version. Two trumpets, timpani, and strings.

score image

Hallelujah Chorus, Mozart's version. Two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, two horns, two trumpets, timpani and strings.

score image