Handel and his accompanied recitatives

  • Liam Gorry

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This dissertation provides the first comprehensive study ever undertaken of Handel’s accompanied recitatives. It traces the evolution of the medium within his vocal works from 1704 up until the composer’s final English language works in the 1750s. Using music manuscripts, wordbooks, the early printed editions and documentary evidence a detailed picture of Handel’s musical and dramatic choices relating to his accompanied recitatives comes into view.

The principle singers for whom Handel’s accompanied recitatives were originally written and the differences between accompanied recitatives in acted and un-acted works are discussed in detail, and possible influences on the young Handel, with regard to accompanied recitative, are also considered.

The connection between accompanied recitative and the supernatural in the composer’s vocal works is also discussed, and his use of accompanied recitative to distort closed forms and his reasons for doing so are explored. The problems relating to the terminology of eighteenth-century accompanied recitative are discussed at length, and a history of the medium is provided.
Date of AwardJul 2012
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SponsorsDepartment of Education Northern Ireland, Donegal County Council & Queen's University Belfast
SupervisorSarah McCleave (Supervisor) & Jan Smaczny (Supervisor)

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