Friday, April 17, 2015

FRIDAY, APRIL 17, 2015

"Music is a friend of labor for it lightens the task by

  refreshing the nerves and spirit of the worker."
William Green
"The rhythmic beats of music not only

  help people pace  their daily work activities
  but also make the work more enjoyable."

(A sacred drama in the same format
as an opera, performed in a concert
setting without staging or costumes.)
Prophet Elijah, from The State Hermitage Museum: Digital Collection -- Powered by IBM
Prophet Elijah, from The State
Hermitage Museum
Ann Howard Jones, Conductor
Boston University Symphony Orchestra
and Symphonic Chorus, 2011
Irving S. Gilmore Music Library

achieved such an extraordinary success that it
was a difficult act to follow. Mendelssohn
immediately began contemplating the possibility
of a second oratorio, and he even considered
setting the story of Elijah. But for nearly a
decade, these plans remained unfulfilled. He
was apparently thinking about Elijah again in
1845, and when the Birmingham Music Festival
commissioned him
Joseph Moore: Manager of the
Birmingham Musical Festivals
to compose an oratorio, he

As he had with St. Paul, Mendelssohn asked
Julius Schubring, a friend and Lutheran pastor,
to assemble a libretto from the German Bible.
Because the audience in Birmingham expected
an English-language oratorio, Schubring's text
had to be translated. Although Mendelssohn
spoke English himself, he entrusted this
assignment to his friend William Bartholomew.
William Bartholomew
It was sometimes a delicate task, because many
of the Biblical passages were famous ones, so
English listeners would have been dismayed if
they had heard literal translations of
German Bible
The Luther Bible is a German language
Bible translation from Hebrew
and ancient Greek by Martin Luther
rather than the King James version
King James I
The Royal Sponsor of the Bible that Bears his Name
King James Bible
that was so familiar in England.
Letter from Mendelssohn to Bartholomew with Annotations (1)
Letter from Mendelssohn to Bartholomew with Annotations (2)

The premiere took place in Birmingham, England
Birmingham Town Hall
Birmingham Town Hall: Interior Pictured in 1845
It was a tremendous success, and ever since
Elijah has been widely regarded as the pre-
eminent oratorio of the 19th Century.
composer of two oratorios, but he was already at
work on a third, Christus, when he died in
1847 at the age of only 38.
The story of this oratorio comes from the
Old Testament Biblical Book of Kings

and it is about the famous
wonder-worker and
Prophet Elijah (or Elias)
The Holy Prophet Elias
from the northern kingdom Of Israel
and his triumph over the idol worshiping and
hedonistic reign of Israel's King Ahab
Fredric Leighton: Jezebel and Ahab c.1863
and his wife Jezebel.
Here is a little background to the story:
Icona di S. Elia con scene della sua vita, XIX sec.

This dramatic biblical story required music
written for it on a grand scale. Mendelssohn's
music calls for a large chorus, orchestra and
soloists: a big piece of music, which requires
a production with a stage of nearly 100
performers.  Victorian era British audiences
of Mendelssohn's time, to which this oratorio
was commissoned for, loved to see and
hear this musical style akin to our current
cultural fascination with huge arena-like
spectical concerts.
Performance of an Oratorio
The widow (soprano)
The child (soprano)
The angel (Soprani I and II, Alto)
The queen (Contralto)
King Ahab (Tenor)
Obadjah (Tenor)
Elia (Low)
ELIJAH OPUS 70: Part 1
Thomas Hampson, Baritone
Barbara Bonney, Soprano
Robert Shaw, Conductor
Ann Howard Jones, Assistant Conductor for Choruses
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, 1994
0:00 Introduction (Elijah) - As God of Israel liveth
0:57 Ouverture
4:28 Chorus - Help Lord
7:50 Quartet Recit. - The deep affords no water (3,5,7,8)
8:48 Duet with chorus - Zion spreadeth her hands for aid (3,5)
10:56 Recit (Obadiah) - If with all your hearts
Chorus - Yet doth the Lord see it not
19:00 Recit (Angel) - Elijah! get thee hence (Florence Quivar)
19:55 Double quartet -For He shall give His angels (2,3,4,5,6,7,8,)
23:04 Recit (Angel): Now Cherith's book is dried up (Florence Quivar)
24:22 Air (Bonney): What have I to do with thee - Recit (Elijah, Widow) Give me thy son!
13. 9. Chorus - 'Blessed Are All They That Fear Him'
14. 10 Recitative (Elijah, Ahab) With Chorus - 'As God The Lord Of Sabaoth Liveth'
15. 11. Chorus - 'Baal, Answer Us'
16. 12. Recitative (Elijah) And Chorus - 'Call Him Louder, For He Is A God!'
17. 13. Recitative (Elijah) And Chorus - 'Call Him Louder! He Heareth Not'
18. 14. Air (Elijah) - 'Lord God Of Abraham, Isaac And Israel'
19. 15. Quartet (Angels) - 'Cast Thy Burden Upon The Lord'
20. 16. Recitative (Elijah) And Chorus - 'O Thou, Who Makest Thine Angels Spirits'
21. 17. Air (Elijah) - 'Is Not His Word Like A Fire?'
22. 18. Air - 'Woe Unto Them Who Forsake Him!'
23. 19. Recitative (Obadiah, Elijah, Youth) And Chorus - 'O Man Of God, Help Thy People!'
24. 20. Chorus - 'Thanks Be To God!'
Written in two acts, the first
act opens, before
the overture,
Paul Daniel, Conductor
Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
with Elijah prophesying
The Elian Cycle
Captured in the Windows
of the Chapel of Mt. Carmel Monastery

Elijah Confronts Ahab  (1 Kings 17: 1)
to Ahab and Jezabel God's displeasure at them
Thomas Matthews Rooke: Elijah Prophesises to Ahab and Jezabel Their End
with a threat that there
shall be a terrible drought
2012 Drought Feature
until the people of Israel return to the
worship of the true God, Jehovah.
Cima da Conegliano: God the Father, c1510–27
The overture portrays the suffering from the
famine that the drought brings to Israel.
Paul Daniel, Conductor
Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
the people of Israel
plead for relief
"Help, Lord!"
Terre Johnson, Conductor
The Southeastern Chamber Orchestra

as well as in the next duet with chorus,
"Lord, bow thine ear."
The prophet, Obadiah,
James Tissot: Obadiah the Prophet
who has remained faithful to God,
reminds the people that the drought is to
punish them for worshipping idols. His aria,
"If with all your hearts,"
advises them to be
true to God. They respond with,
"Yet doth the Lord see it not."
An angel advises Elijah to hide in a small valley
east of the Jordan (where he stays for three years)
to avoid Ahab's wrath, and the angels sing,
"For He shall give His angels."
The Elian Cycle
Captured in the Windows
of the Chapel of Mt. Carmel Monastery

Elijah is Fed by Ravens at Cherith (1 Kings 17: 6)
Later, the angel returns to tell Elijah to
go back to Zarephath by the sea, 
The Elian Cycle
Captured in the Windows
of the Chapel of Mt. Carmel Monastery

Elijah and the Widow (1 Kings 17: 10-16)
where a widow takes him in. While he stays with
her, her supplies of grain and cooking oil
miraculously replenish themselves.
Bernardo Strozzi: Prophet Elijah and the Widow of Sarepta, c1630's
In the first extended scene of the oratorio
the widow comes to him for help for
her sick child who soon dies. Elijah prays three
times to God, and the boy revives. Observing
this miracle leads to her conversion.
The Elian Cycle
Captured in the Windows
of the Chapel of Mt. Carmel Monastery

Elijah Raises the Widow's Son (1 Kings 17: 17-24)
They pledge their devotion to God,
and the chorus sings,
"Blessed are the men who fear him."
The widow Zarephath
Louis Hersent: Elijah reviving the Son of the Widow of Zarephath
The Elian Cycle
Captured in the Windows
of the Chapel of Mt. Carmel Monastery

Obadiah Petitions Elijah (1 Kings 18: 7-15)
After three years of drought
Elijah again presents
himself before King Ahab
and proposes a test
to show that God is the true
God and Baal is not. 
The Elian Cycle
Captured in the Windows
of the Chapel of Mt. Carmel Monastery

Elijah Confounds the Prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18: 21-40)
Icon of Holy Prophet Elijah
Saint Catherine's Monastery, Sinai AD 1200
by means of a contest, demands
that the people of Israel call upon
their false Gods for succor. The people
of Israel assemble around Mount Carmel
to observe the contest on its summit.  Elijah
and the prophets of Baal each place sacrificial
steers on their altars but do not burn them.
Instead, in a series of choruses, Baal's
prophets appeal to Baal to
set their offering on fire in
"Baal, we cry to thee"
and when Elijah taunts them, in
"Hear our cry"
"Baal, hear and answer."
The false Gods do not answer; nothing happens.
Elijah then prays to God to send
forth fire from heaven
Albert Joseph Moore: Elijah's Sacrifice
in the aria,
"Lord God of Abraham."
An angel chorus reassures him with
"Cast thy burden upon the Lord."
And the people of Israel see how
God answers Elijah's prayers in
"The fire descends from heaven."
Cranach: Elijah and the Priests of Baal 1545
Master of James IV of Scotland (Flemish):
Elijah Begging for Fire from Heaven,
before 1465- about 1541
Elijah orders the people to
kill the prophets of Baal
and glories in God's fearsome justice in the aria
"Is not His word like a fire?"
The alto seconds his sentiment in
"Woe, woe unto them!"
In an intricate linked passage with a youth
and the chorus, Elijah importunes God to bring rain
down upon the parched fields
to end the drought.
Elijah -(Hebrew: -אֱלִיָּהוּ Eliyahu, meaning "My God is Yahweh")  was a famous prophet and a wonder-worker in the northern kingdom of Israel during the reign of Ahab. According to the Books of Kings, Elijah defended the worship of Yahweh over that of the Phoenician god Baal he raised the dead, brought fire down from the sky, and was taken up in a whirlwind (either accompanied by a chariot and horses of flame or riding in it)
After each prayer, he sends a youth
When the storm arrives,
the people rejoice with
"Thanks be to God."
In the aria,
"Hear ye, Israel,"
the soprano advises the people to obey
God's laws and regain His protection.
"Hear ye, Israel"
"Be not afraid"
The chorus echoes her with
"Be not afraid."
ELIJAH OPUS 70: Part 2
Thomas Hampson, Baritone
Barbara Bonney, Soprano
Robert Shaw, Conductor
Ann Howard Jones, Assistant Conductor for Choruses
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, 1994
Air: Hear ye, Israel! (Barbara Bonney)
Chorus: Be not affraid
Recit (Elijah, Queen) and chorus: The Lord hath exalted thee
Chorus - Woe to him
Recit (Obadiah, Elijah) Man of Godnow let my words be precious
Air (Thomas Hampson): It is enough, O Lord
Recit (Richard Clement) See, now he sleepeth
Trio of Angels (Bonney, Schellenberg,Simpson): Lift thine eyes 
Chorus: He, watching over Israel
Recit (Angel, Elijah): Arise, Elijah (Florence Quivar)
Air (Angel): O rest in the Lord (Florence Quivar)
Chorus: He that shall endure to the end
Recit (Elijah, Angel): Night falleth 'round me (Henriette Schellenberg)
Chorus: Behold, God the Lord passed by!
Recit, Quartet & Chorus: Above himstood the seraphim (5,2,3,4)
Chorus: Go, return upon thy way - and recit (Elijah) I go on my way
Arioso (Thomas Hampson): For the mountains shall depart
Chorus: Thus did Elijah the prophet break forth 
Air (Jerry Hadley): Then shall the righteous shine forth
Recit: For Godsent his people the prophet Elijah (Barbara Bonney)
Chorus: Thus saith the Lord
Quartet: O come, everyone that thirsteth (3,5,7,8)
Chorus: And then shall your light break forth
The second act begins with the people of
Israel hailing Elijah and the true God.

A depiction on the wall of a third-century C.E. synagogue
at Dura-Europos in modern Syria.

Shown here, Elijah and his followers have easily
conjured up a blazing fire, which engulfs their white bull.
Seeing the flames, the Israelites call out,
"Yahweh alone is God, Yahweh alone is God."
Ahab and Jezebel persist
in worshipping Baal, and
Elijah condemns them prophesying
that God will again punish Israel.
Queen Jezebel,
Henry John Stock: Jezebel, 1882
She is pictured here as a Victorian woman wearing
a red dress, surrounded by evil influences.
in revenge, incites the people
against him whipping the people into a
frenzy until, in
"Woe to him,"
they vow to kill Elijah.
Obadiah warns the prophet to flee
to the desert for his life.
Elijah Flees Jezebel
Elijah fled to Beersheba,
then into the wilderness.
Washington Allston: Elijah in the Wilderness

Utterly depressed over his failure,
a desperate Elijah asks God
to let him die in the aria,
"It is enough."
As he sleeps, the angels sing,
"Lift thine eyes"
"He, watching over Israel."
An angel appears to send Elijah far south to
Mount Horeb, also known as Mount Sinai.
When he still despairs that his prophesies
to the people of Israel have been in vain,
the angel comforts him with the aria,
"O rest in the Lord,"
"O rest in the Lord"
Kathleen Ferrier, Contralto
and an angel chorus sings,
"He that shall endure."
The Elian Cycle
Captured in the Windows
of the Chapel of Mt. Carmel Monastery

God Strengthens Elijah with Food and Drink (1 Kings 19: 4-8)
"Lord," he said, "I have had enough, take my life; I am no better than my ancestors." Then
he lay down and went to sleep. But an angel touched him and said, "Get up and eat."
A trio of angels (the chorus) then appears
to watch over him, telling him that God

Continuing on with his journey he
walked 40 days and 40 nights
finally to reach Mount Sinai
and asks God to appear to him.
An angel tells him to veil his face
to withstand the presence of God.
The chorus sings,
"Behold, God the Lord passed by."
The heavenly host appears
Vintage Angel
and an octet and chorus of angels sing
praises back and forth in
"Holy, holy, holy."
Sunrise at Mount Sinai in Egypt
Afterward, in
"Go, return upon thy way,"
the angels tell Elijah to return to Israel as
prophet to the people there.
Elijah sings of God's eternal mercy in
"For the mountains shall depart."
Then, the chorus mentions fiery triumphs
over King Ahaziah,
King Ahaziah
Ahab's successor, and describes
Elijah's ascent to heaven in a fiery
chariot to gain his final reward in
"Then did Elijah the prophet break forth."

Peter Paul Rubens: Elijah
The tenor aria,
"Then shall the righteous shine forth,"
tells of his arrival in heaven.
The Elian Cycle
Captured in the Windows
of the Chapel of Mt. Carmel Monastery

Elijah Conquers the Antichrist (Sirach 48: 1-12)
The finale links Elijah with
the Messiah's coming.
The Elian Cycle
Captured in the Windows
of the Chapel of Mt. Carmel Monastery

Elijah as Martyr (Matthew 17: 9-13)
The chorus sings
"But the Lord from the north,"
the four soloists sing
"O come everyone that thirsteth,"
and the chorus ends with both
"And then shall your light"
and a fugue,
"Lord, our Creator."
A fresco of Saint Ilia (Elijah) from the ceiling of Rila Monastery, Bulgaria
Marc Chagall:Mosaic of the Prophet Elijah, 1970
Marc Chagall: Elijah Touched by Angel
Marc Chagall: The Widow and Elijah
Marc Chagall: Elijah on Mount Carmel
Marc Chagall: Angel Leading Elijah
Marc Chagall: Elijah's Vision,  1957
Chagall, Elijah ascends to heaven
Marc Chagall: Elijah Ascends to Heaven