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Handel composed Judas Maccabaeus as a compliment to William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, when he returned victorious over the Young Pretender, Prince Charles Edward Stuart, at the battle of Culloden, Scotland, 16 April 1746. When the work was first given at London�s Covent Garden in 1747 it was an immediate success, and even today it is regularly performed as part of a choral society�s active repertoire. Handel as Beethoven observed achieved the most telling and dramatic music by simple means.
In the original Handel scores this chorus for three different combinations; first as a �Chorus for Youths� in which he nominates the voices as Cantus 1 and Cantus 2 which denotes the highest voice-part thereby implying the use of children�s voices with a senza bassi line. Secondly as a �Chorus of Virgins� with exclusive use of women�s voices only, and thirdly as a full �Chorus� using the usual configuration of Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Bass voices to which he adds two horns, two oboes and strings.
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