Beethoven said of Handel that he of all composers knew best how to achieve grand effects with simple means. Those magnificent moments are nowhere more evident than in Handel's great oratorios, perennial favorites with audiences and musicians alike. "Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians" says of Handel: ." . . in oratorio he brought the level of artistry to a higher plane than his contemporaries."
"Judas Maccabaeus" was first performed in London at Covent Garden in 1747 and was an instant success. The subject of the oratorio the triumph of the Jewish warrior-hero Judas Maccabaeus over the invading enemies of the Israelites was deliberately chosen to appeal to the patriotic sympathies of eighteenth-century Londoners immediately after the crushing of the Jacobite rebellion in April 1746.
Although political overtones had some role in the oratorio's initial success, it is the beauty, dramatic power, and brilliant originality of the arias, duets, and choruses that have kept this work constantly in the active repertoire. This is religious music on a grand scale in a work that has greatly influenced major choral music into the twentieth century. Now all music lovers can enjoy the full score of this splendid masterwork, reprinted here in an authoritative, inexpensive edition.