L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato
(HWV 55) is a pastoral
The adjective pastoral refers to the lifestyle of pastoralists, such as shepherds herding livestock around open areas of land according to seasons and the changing availability of water and pasturage. It also refers to a genre in literature, art or music that depicts such shepherd life in an...
Ode is a type of lyrical verse. A classic ode is structured in three major parts: the strophe, the antistrophe, and the epode. Different forms such as the homostrophic ode and the irregular ode also exist...
by George Frideric Handel
George Frideric Handel was a German-British Baroque composer, famous for his operas, oratorios, anthems and organ concertos. Handel was born in 1685, in a family indifferent to music...
based on the poetry of John Milton
John Milton was an English poet, polemicist, a scholarly man of letters, and a civil servant for the Commonwealth of England under Oliver Cromwell...
Handel composed the work over the period of 19 January to 4 February 1740, and the work was premiered on 27 February 1740 at the Royal Theatre of Lincoln's Inn Fields
Lincoln's Inn Fields is the largest public square in London, UK. It was laid out in the 1630s under the initiative of the speculative builder and contractor William Newton, "the first in a long series of entrepreneurs who took a hand in developing London", as Sir Nikolaus Pevsner observes...
. One of Handel's librettists, Charles Jennens
Charles Jennens was an English landowner and patron of the arts, who assembled the text for five of Handel's oratorios: Saul, Israel in Egypt, L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato, Messiah, and Belshazzar...
, arranged Milton's two poems, L'Allegro
L'Allegro is a pastoral poem by John Milton published in 1645. L'Allegro is invariably paired with the contrasting pastoral poem, Il Penseroso , which depicts a similar day spent in contemplation and thought.-Background:It is uncertain when L'Allegro and Il Penseroso were composed because they do...
and il Penseroso
Il Penseroso is a vision of poetic melancholy by John Milton. Presented in the 1645 folio of verses, The Poems of Mr. John Milton, both English and Latin, Il Penseroso was presented as a companion piece to L'Allegro, a vision of poetic Mirth...
, interleaving them to create dramatic tension between the personified characters of Milton's poems (L'Allegro or the "Joyful man" and il Penseroso or the "Contemplative man"). The first two movements consist of this dramatic dialog between Milton's poems. In an attempt to unite the two poems into a singular "moral design", Jennens added a new poem, "il Moderato", to create a third movement.
Michael O'Connell and John Powell have published an analysis of Handel's setting of the text in his musical treatment.
In 1988, Mark Morris choreographed a dance performance to accompany the music and poetry.
- Full-text libretto hosted at wikisource
Wikisource is an online digital library of free content textual sources on a wiki, operated by the Wikimedia Foundation. Its aims are to host all forms of free text, in many languages, and translations. Originally conceived as an archive to store useful or important historical texts, it has...
- Score of L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato (ed. Friedrich Chrysander
Karl Franz Friedrich Chrysander was a German music historian and critic, whose edition of the works of George Frideric Handel and authoritative writings on many other composers established him as a pioneer of 19th-century musicology.Born at Lübtheen, in Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Chrysander was the son...
, Leipzig 1859)
- Full-text libretto hosted by Stanford University
The Leland Stanford Junior University, commonly referred to as Stanford University or Stanford, is a private research university on an campus located near Palo Alto, California. It is situated in the northwestern Santa Clara Valley on the San Francisco Peninsula, approximately northwest of San...
- Full-text of Milton's L'Allegro and il Penseroso at Project Gutenberg.
- Text and Commentary on L'Allegro at Dartmouth.edu
- Text and Commentary on il Penseroso at Dartmouth.edu
- Program notes by Boston Cecilia
The Boston Cecilia is a choral society in Boston, Massachusetts, which is in its 132nd season. Founded in 1876, the ensemble has enjoyed historic relationships with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and famous conductors and composers, such as Arthur Fiedler, Igor Stravinsky, and Antonín Dvořák...
- Notes by Music with Ease.