Photo: Christophe Finot
London’s musical world during the seventeenth century revolved around vocal music. Henry Purcell and his contemporaries dabbled in opera, stage music, and sacred music. Italian opera was the most frequented, but English audiences soon got sick of listening to music in a language they couldn’t understand. So composers such as George Frideric Handel had to create a new kind of vocal music in England. Handel premiered his oratorio, Messiah, in 1742 and it’s been a crowd favorite ever since.