2021: Redemption and the Modern Age – Handel’s Messiah between the late 18th and the 21st century

The Conference will focus on the performance history, the history of the arrangements and the history of the impact of Messiah which stands for the worldwide reputation of the composer more than any other work. Conceptualised by the librettist Charles Jennens as a response to contemporary deistic doubts about the Messianic mission of the Christian Redeemer, Messiah attained the status of an overall spiritual, transconfessional work in the course of its performance history, which has continued unbroken from 1741 to the present day. In its significance for the reception of Handel, Messiah is only exceeded by the Hallelujah Chorus from that work.

The Conference aims to find out what has happened with the original Christian message of Redemption in the oratorio by using it in secular contexts, but also with the adaptations and transformations (some of which are problematic) that have led to the present global significance of Messiah and Handel’s most famous chorus.

Renowned scholars from several countries in Europe and overseas have already confirmed their participation. At the beginning of the conference, the International Handel Research Prize 2021 will be awarded.


Saturday, May 29, 2021, Stadthaus am Markt

10 am: Festival Lecture

Andreas Waczkat (Göttingen)
Held und Erlöser. Christusbilder in den Oratorien von Georg Friedrich Händel bis Friedrich Schneider (in German only)

Monday, May 31, 2021, Händel-Haus, Kammermusiksaal

10 to 12 am: Opening of the Conference

Award of the International Händel Research Prize
Lecture by the prizewinner
Musical Programme: Students of the Institut für Musik, Medien- und Sprechwissenschaften der Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

1:45 to 3:15 pm: Section I

Marianne Schröter (Halle)
Erlösung – ein Konzept individueller und ästhetischer Religiosität der Moderne

Karl Friedrich Ulrichs (Berlin)
Händels Messiah in evangelischer Predigt

3:30 to 5 pm: Section II

Marybeth Hauffe (Wuppertal)
O Thou That Tellest Good Tidings to Zion: Can a Rashi Variant be Antisemitic?

Stephen Nissenbaum (Underhill, Vermont, USA)
Rejoicing against Whom? Charles Jennens, Michael Marissen, and the Hallelujah Chorus

5:30 pm:
guided tour through the exhibition “Off the Pedestal! Of Heroes and Redeemers”

Tuesday, June 1, 2021, Händel-Haus, Kammermusiksaal

10 am to 12:15 pm: Section III

Rebekka Sandmeier (Kapstadt)
Ein Messias aus Afrika: Tunde Jegedes African Messiah

H. Stefan Walcott (Barbados)
Handel’s Caribbean Messiah: The Global Handel

Yasuko Kawamura (Tokio)
On the acceptance of Messiah in Japan

1:45 to 3:15 pm: Section IV

Martin Elste (Berlin)
Händels Messiah als Weltmusik

David Vickers (Huddersfield, UK)
“Their Sound is gone out into all Lands”: period-instrument recordings of Messiah, 1980–2020

3:30 to 5 pm: Section V

Juliane Riepe (Halle)
Il Messia. Eine neue Quelle zur frühen Händel-Rezeption außerhalb Großbritanniens

Livio Marcaletti (Wien)
Johann Simon Mayrs Il Messia – ein frühes Beispiel italienischer Rezeption des Messiah

5:30 pm:
guided tour through the editorial office of the Hallische Händel-Ausgabe

Wednesday, June 2, 2021, Händel-Haus, Kammermusiksaal

10 am to 12:15 pm: Section VI

Luke Howard (Provo, Utah, USA)
Handel’s Messiah in London and the Provinces, 1840–1857: Setting the Stage for the Handel Festivals

Florian Csizmadia (Stralsund)
Zur Rezeption des Messiah im Viktorianischen Zeitalter

Graydon Beeks (Claremont, USA)
Sir George Smart’s Advice to Jenny Lind on Performing Messiah

1:45 to 3:15 pm: Section VII

Donald Burrows (Milton Keynes, UK)
Making sense of a »new« (and old) manuscript of Handel’s Messiah

Malcolm Bruno (Glasfryn, Cwmcarvan, UK)

3:30 to 5 pm: Section VIII

Colin Timms (Birmingham, UK)
Words, Music and Irony in Handel

John Roberts (Berkeley, USA)
Hamburg without Handel: 1708 and 1716


Please note:

Participation in the festival lecture as well as in the conference is free and in principle open to all interested persons. If seating capacity in the Stadthaus am Markt and the Kammermusiksaal of the Händel-Haus is still limited, pre-registration is recommended. If it is not possible to hold the conference in a face-to-face format, it will alternatively be held as a video conference.


Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Hirschmann
Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

Dr. Annette Landgraf
Georg-Friedrich-Händel-Gesellschaft e. V.

Dr. Konstanze Musketa
Stiftung Händel-Haus Halle


Georg-Friedrich-Händel-Gesellschaft e. V., Internationale Vereinigung

Institut für Musik, Medien- und Sprechwissenschaften, Abteilung Musikwissenschaft, der Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

In cooperation with:

Stiftung Händel-Haus Halle

Interdisziplinäres Zentrum für Pietismusforschung (IZP) der Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

The conference is sponsored by the International Office der Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg.

Logo der Saalesparkasse

The International Handel Research Prize is awarded with the kind support of the Stiftung der Saalesparkasse.

Locations for events

Stadthaus am Markt

Große Nikolaistraße 5
06108 Halle
Tel. +49 (0)345 500 900