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George Frederick Handel (1685 - 1759)


Zadok the Priest

In 1727 the king, George I, died, and was succeeded by his son, George II. Handel had taken up his British citizenship that year, and was asked to write a series of coronation anthems for the occasion. The choice of texts was well established, and had been first used at the coronation of Charles I, one hundred years earlier. The text of this anthem "Zadok the Priest" refers to the coronation of King Solomon, famed for his wisdom - a highly flattering comparison for the new monarch!

The performance at the coronation was by large forces - an orchestra of 160 players, and a choir of about 50. Unfortunately the performance was not good, being let down by poor organisation. The officiating Archbishop of Canterbury recorded on his Order of Service "The anthems in confusion : all irregular in the music". I'm sure this will not be a problem tonight!

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