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Lecture 13

Opera and Oratorio of the High Baroque, Transition to the Classical Era

[Handel:] He is the greatest composer that ever lived.

I would uncover my head and kneel before his tomb.

—Ludwig van Beethoven


Handel opera and oratorio; transition to the classical style

In this lecture we finish out the baroque with Handel opera and oratorio, then we begin to explore the Age of Enlightenment and the classical period in music.


Topics covered:

  • Handel opera: Giulio Cesare (Julius Caesar)
  • Handel oratorio: Messiah
  • the Enlightenment and the classical period

Composer: Handel



  • hearing the high baroque vocal style of Handel's opera, Julius Caesar and his oratorio, Messiah
  • understand the new attitudes of the Enlightenment



  • watch lecture 13 (in multiple parts for quicker download)
  • review previous chapters, as necessary
  • read textbook, Chapter 14, 16, 17
  • As you are reading your textbook, go through the Listening Exercises in textbook sequence, listening to the examples provided. 
  • regarding developing listening skills: you should be in the habit of developing your listening skills early in the game - the assignments will get more complex through the semester and you may find yourself unable to keep up. As simple as these early assignments may seem to some of you, they will help to keep you on the right track, and help you develop the skills required for a greater appreciation in listening to music, including the music that you listen to for your own enjoyment. Of course, those objectives are in total sync with the success you hope to have in this class. Remember that your ability to recognize the music on your CDs will be tested and will, of course, impact your grade.


Audio / Video lecture

click lecture segments below in sequence

presented in several segments to reduce download time

total lecture time: approx. one hour 15 minutes (all segments included)

can be downloaded for portable media players by right clicking each segment link and choosing save option. (note: older Macs and Mac notebooks with single-button mice: control-click)


Lecture 13.1 

Handel opera

Lecture 13.2 
Handel oratorio


Lecture 13.3 

Bonus Segment: Transition to the classical style