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Ludwig van Beethoven

SATB Organ or Piano

From Christus am Oelberge (Christ on the Mount of Olives)


Hallelujah unto God's Almighty Son Praise the Lord, ye bright angelic choirs
In holy songs of Joy.
Man, proclaim his grace and glory,
Hallelujah unto God's Almighty Son
Praise the Lord in holy songs of joy.


Hallelujah - Beethoven

Created 02-Oct-08 Revised 11-Apr-09

Hallelujah Chorus from Christ on the Mount of Olives, Beethoven

Ludwig van Beethoven’s Christus am Ölberge (in English, Christ on the Mount of Olives), Op. 85, was initially composed in Hetzendorf during a two-week period in 1801. With a libretto in German by the poet Franz Xaver Huber, it was first heard on April 5, 1803 and revised for another Lenten performance the following year.

It is a much more humanistic portrayal of the Christ passion than other settings, such as those by Bach. The work concludes at the point of Jesus personally accepting his fate in Gethsemane, placing the emphasis on his own decision rather than the later Crucifixion or Resurrection.

The structure of the work is interesting in that it is something of a dramatic oratorio rather than a religious choral mass or a dramatic opera. It is scored for SATB chorus, Soprano, Tenor, and Bass soli, and Orchestra. The tenor sings as Jesus with the soprano as an angel and the bass as Peter.

Beethoven was quite critical of the oratorio, thinking it too dramatic in nature and the orchestra and chorus too under-rehearsed in its premiere performance. He, too, panned Huber's libretto saying, “I would rather set Homer, Klopstock, Schiller to music. If they offer difficulties to overcome, these immortal poets are worthy of it.” Huber agreed, saying, “I know that the text is extremely bad,” and Beethoven waited almost ten years to publish the piece (explaining the relatively late Opus number). It is interesting to note that Beethoven eventually did set Schiller to music in his monumental Ninth Symphony, almost twenty years later.

Although the piece, Beethoven's only oratorio, enjoyed immediate public success following its premiere, it has since drifted into obscurity and is now rarely performed, being commonly regarded as being below Beethoven’s usual standards of excellence. However, the “Welten singen...” finale chorus has enjoyed some popularity on its own, usually being rendered as an "Hallelujah".

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Metasyntactic variable".

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