The New Student's Reference Work/Israel in Egypt

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Israel in Egypt.  One of the greatest of Händel’s 19 English oratorios composed in the fall of 1738.  The words are Biblical, including “The Song of Moses” in Exodus 15.  The first performance was on April 4, 1739.  The work as originally produced consisted of 39 numbers, 28 of which were massive double choruses — a veritable mountain chain of harmony.  The experience of this early performance led to the addition of four recitatives and two airs, which in a measure relieved the continuous strain of listening to such a succession of choruses.  It was not until 1831 that the work had its first performance by the Sing-Akademie of Berlin and still later (1849), when it was given as first composed, by the Sacred Harmonic Society in England.  The reputation of Händel has suffered from the fact that in this oratorio, as elsewhere, he unwarrantably appropriated the work of other composers where it suited his purpose.  This reflects less upon his superior genius as a composer than it does upon his rectitude as a man, since in each instance he has “touched (stolen) but to adorn.”