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Continuo Realization in Handel's Vocal Music


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This pioneering study examines aspects of figured bass notation and continuo realization in the High Baroque, especially with respect to the operas and oratorios of G. F. Handel. Contemporary treatises, Handel's manuscripts, original performance material, and other early sources provide clarification and guidance for the modern performer.

Part one is an overview of figured bass in Handel source materials: autograph manuscripts, performing scores, original keyboard parts, 18th century scribal copies, and early editions. Part two treats in depth continuo realization problems that are often overlooked and can be troublesome in modern performances. The author defines the most common bass patterns, or formula-progressions, in Handel's music, together with the precise harmony the composer intended.

The author attempts to show that continuo figuring can serve different functions depending on context. Much of the figuring that comes down to us in secondary sources may derive from the composer, or it may reflect valid contemporary practice. Modern editions, in the main, are too selective in this regard: they only include bass figuring from primary sources, leaving the modern performer frequently without sufficient guidance in the continuo part to improvise a stylistic accompaniment.

Appendices include brief examples of continuo realization by Handel.

Patrick J. Rogers is an active keyboard player and former Fulbright Scholar who studied Handel under Theodor Göllner, Roand Jackson, Terence Best, and the late J. Merrill Knapp.


A major contribution to the study of Handel's music [which] illuminates an important area of performance practice...[written] with the force of one who knows the music, recent trends in performance, the sources and the treatises well. --THE AMERICAN ORGANIST [William Gudger]

Thorough and well-written . . . a study [of] depth. clarity, and elegance. . . --AMERICAN HANDEL SOCIETY NEWSLETTER [Nicolas McGegan]

Cultivates a hitherto untilled field and offers keenly thought-provoking interpretations. --HISTORICAL PERFORMANCE [Lowell Lindgren]


First Published: 15 Apr 2010
13 Digit ISBN: 9781580463614
60 black and white illustrations
Pages: 286
Size: 9.25 x 6
Binding: Paperback
Imprint: University of Rochester Press
BIC Class: AV

Details updated on 05 Oct 2015

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