Recorded on 05/27/2007, uploaded on 03/27/2009
Musician's or Publisher's Notes
The years between 1688 and 1746 were marked by a series of
rebellions in the British Isles collectively known as the Jacobite Uprisings.
The purpose of these uprisings was to return James II of England, and later his
descendants of the House of Stuart, to the English throne after having been
unseated during the Glorious Revolution of 1688. Two major rebellions took
place in 1715 and 1745. In 1746, Charles Edward Stuart, known as The Pretender,
was defeated at the Battle of Culloden, marking the end of the Uprisings. In
honor of the victory of British forces, Handel began working on an oratorio in
honor of their “Truly Wise, Virtuous, and Virtuous Commander” Prince William
Augustus, Duke of Cumberland.
Written over a month long period during the summer of 1746
and first performed on April 1, 1747 at Covent Gartden, Judas Maccabaeus instantly became one of Handel’s most celebrated
oratorios. Its story comes from the apocryphal First Book of Maccabees with
some additions from Antiquities of the
Jews by Josephus. It relates the events of the time when Judea was rule by the
Seleucids, Hellenistic kings that ruled throughout Asia Minor, Syria and
Persia. In 167 B.C., Antiochus IV attempted to destroy the Jewish religion by
decreeing the mandatory worship of Zeus and forbidding the observance of Jewish
laws. Fearing persecution, many Jews obeyed. However, in small town not far
from Jerusalem, an old priest by the name of Mattathias rose up to defend his
faith and pulled down the pagan alter the Seleucids had set up.
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