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Samson in Music

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Chapter Summary

When it comes to religious music in a recreational setting the Bible is a rich source of inspiration, not so much because of its theological purport but rather because of the lovely stories it contains. Samson's adventures, too, are eminently suitable material. The Hamburg Oper am Gӓnsemarkt performed predominantly biblical dramas. The opera most likely centred on the betrayal by Delilah/Deborah and the dying Samson's last heroic deed. In the first half of the18th century Jean-Philippe Rameau was the principal composer of French opera. He wrote an opera on Samson's story. Shortly before Rameau's work a remarkable musical gem about Samson appeared. A highlight of the Samson oeuvre in music is unquestionably the oratorio by George Frederick Handel. In the rest of 18th century and 19th century music Samson resurfaces fairly regularly, mainly in opera and oratorio. Samson is a colourful figure that has occupied people's minds over centuries.

Keywords: Bible; biblical dramas; French opera; Hamburg; Jean-Philippe Rameau; oratorio; religious music; Samson



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