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A bibliographical and textual study of the wordbooks for James Miller's Joseph and his brethren and Thomas Broughton's Hercules, oratorio librettos set to music by George Frideric Handel, 1743-44.

Robarts, Leslie Michael Martyn (2008)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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This thesis recovers the wordbooks for Handel’s oratorios from their neglect in literary and musical history. Taking Joseph and his Brethren and Hercules as samples, it shows the essential place of wordbooks in the original oratorio experience and challenges an editorial and performance practice which favours music over words. Chapter One presents editions of the wordbooks of Joseph and Hercules in order to offer a transmissional history, and Chapter Two reclaims the literariness of the librettos and demonstrates their effectiveness. Chapter Three examines the two librettos in the composer’s and copyist’s manuscript musical scores prior to first publication of the wordbooks and reveals verbal changes made during composition of the music. Chapter Four explores the significance of wordbooks for the booksellers of Joseph and Hercules and reconstructs aspects of wordbook production and consumption. Chapter Five identifies the wordbooks’ printer and places wordbook production in the context of book trade regulation and copyright. Chapter Six discusses the material identity of the wordbooks and the design principles which supported their reception. The thesis concludes that access to printed librettos is essential to redress the verbal-musical imbalance in contemporary performances of Handel’s oratorios.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
Department:Department of English
Subjects:M Music
PE English
Institution:University of Birmingham
Library Catalogue:Check for printed version of this thesis
ID Code:188
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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