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The Story Behind Handel's 'Messiah'

Kelsie Moore

Handel’s Messiah is likely the world’s most famous oratorio – it’s certainly the most performed. But what's the story behind it? 

Many of us associate Messiah with the Christmas season, but when it was first performed in 1742, it was during Lent. This Christmas Day at noon, we’ll revisit our conversation with playwright Tim Slover about the true story of how a then-depressed George Frideric Handel wrote this enduring piece of music in just 24 days. It’s an amazing story with fascinating characters and of course, beautiful music. 

And make sure you watch our RadioWest FilmThat One Moment in Handel’s Messiah, about the aria “He Was Despised” and the scandal-plagued actress Susannah Cibber who premiered Handel’s masterpiece. You can find it at: films.radiowest.org

Tim Slover's book is called Messiah: The Little-Known Story of Handel's Beloved Oratorio. [IndieboundAmazon]. It includes a CD featuring the Mormon Tabernacle Choir performing Messiah.

Doug Fabrizio has been reporting for KUER News since 1987, and became News Director in 1993. In 2001, he became host and executive producer of KUER's RadioWest, a one hour conversation/call-in show on KUER 90.1 in Salt Lake City. He has gained a reputation for his thoughtful style. He has interviewed everyone from Isabel Allende to the Dalai Lama, and from Madeleine Albright to Desmond Tutu. His interview skills landed him a spot as a guest host of the national NPR program, "Talk of the Nation." He has won numerous awards for his reporting and for his work with RadioWest and KUED's Utah NOW from such organizations as the Society of Professional Journalists, the Utah Broadcasters Association, the Public Radio News Directors Association and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.