Festival theme

The festival theme


Dear Friends of the music of George
Frideric Handel,
The foundations for Handel’s cosmopolitan career was
the education he received in his native city of Halle.
When the well-travelled Johann Philipp Krieger moved
with the ducal court from Halle to Weissenfels, he sold
his music collection to St. Mary’s Church on Markt
square. For every Halle musician, the still extant
Marien-Bibliothek – St. Mary’s Library – became a
treasure trove. The organist of the Marktkirche,
Friedrich Wilhelm Zachow, familiarised Handel with
the different musical styles. According to the Handel
biographer Mainwaring, Zachow “had a large
collection of Italian as well as German music. He
showed him the different styles of different nations;
the excellences and defects of each particular
author”. A critical mind helps even when composing.
Of course, at the same time Handel became
acquainted with French music, as every educated
person was familiar with French culture. And Halle
also sent Handel on his way with an education in the
humanities – French was presumably the first living
foreign language he learned. How familiar he was
with French dances can be heard in every suite, and
his operas usually open with the measured tread of a
French overture. So many reasons for exploring the
French side of Handel’s music in this edition of the
Handel Festival.
Of the Hanoverian court orchestra, Telemann wrote
that there, “the best seed of French science thrives to
become a tall tree and ripest fruit” – no wonder the
young Handel wanted to go there. Racine’s Esther,
Athalie and Bérénice (the model for Titus) and
Quinault’s Amadis and Thésée served him as models
for the libretti of operas and oratorios, and even Flavio
and Theodora have French roots. You can hear five of
them at this year’s festival, as well as the completed
fragment of Titus l’Empereur at the Carl Maria von
Weber Theatre in Bernburg.

Two programmes include
dance, which was of such importance to the Sun King:
with Danse l’Europe, the popular Pera Ensemble
builds a bridge to the Orient, while Lautten
Compagney has devised a dance performance to
Handel’s ballet music for the French dancer, Marie
Sallé – Terpsicore, the Muse of Dance. Names such as
Magdalena Kožená, Jos van Immerseel and Franco
Fagioli are guarantors of the highest artistic standard.
As a surprise guest, I have engaged the phenomenal
organist, Cameron Carpenter.
At the weekends this year we are offering three
weekend tickets, which will facilitate your choice and
spare your wallet. We invite visitors from Germany
and elsewhere to use the free mornings to discover
Halle. Two new guided tours will show you what a
beautiful city this is. Thanks to the last-minute
capitulation it remained largely undestroyed and with
its extensive Gründerzeit (mid-19th century) districts
and Jugendstil houses shows how German cities
looked before the war.
I wish you a wonderful Handel Festival in Halle
Bernd Feuchtner
Executive Director of the Handel Festival