George Frideric Handel: Musical Occultist (Sort Of)

George Frideric Handel. Best known for the Messiah, and the Hallelujah chorus, right? Sure I suppose, if you’re a classical music newb! Oh snap! Zing! Pow! Seriously though Handel has a great many works that are on par, if not better than the Big M, I think it’s safe to say that particular operetta simply gets more airtime due to its sacred subject matter. It’s always smart to write pieces of music that will fit nicely with prominent holidays of major religions. Keep that in mind all you young orchestral composers out there!

Anywho three of my favorite works by Handel have a much more occult flavor, and even venture into pagan mythology! Gasp! My favs include Xerxes, Hercules, and Solomon. First off Xerxes, yes that Xerxes, king of the Persians, great leader of men who marched across the mediterranean area and was featured prominently in the movies The 300 Spartans and 300. In this opera the king is not a villain, but is rather a symbol for Handel’s baroque ideals, transformed into a hero leader who fought against great opposition, beyond that the opera is just a Shakespearian type love story with mistaken words confusing the matter “She thinks he loves her, he thinks she should love him” etc.

"Who am I in love with?!?!?"

When it comes to Hercules, the great greek demigod hero of myth, Handel writes an opera that takes place after Hercs 12 feats, his return home, and his subsequent tragedy and death. Other than that I don’t know much about the plot points of this one, the recording I have of this is in german so I don’t know what the hell they’re saying.

The Incredible Hercules in the baroque style

Lastly, and perhaps my favorite, is the oratorio about Solomon, the king. Solomon is a very enigmatic biblical figure and is best known today among modern mystics as the father of occult ceremonial magic. Whether that title is fitting or not is another topic entirely. This piece however deals with the traditionally popular accounts of Solomon; the ruling to cut the baby in half, and his dealings with the Queen of Sheba. The overture from Handel’s Solomon is just a great listen, one of my favorites.

King Solomon

It is important to remember however that Handel himself, along with his audience wouldn’t really have associated any of these works with their subjects occult connections. Granted the connections are there and viable however, for the most part that just wasn’t part of the mindset of the baroque era. The focus of these works are heroics and great leaders, and Handel doesn’t really bother to go any deeper than that. Handel was setting these older tales in a modern setting for his time, drawing parallels between his ruling class and those legendary rulers from history. Though there might not be any hidden truth in these “occult operas” there is some great music and I encourage you to give them a listen if you’ve never heard these works before. Though I should warn you Xerxes and Solomon both were originally written for castrato (sung by women these days) so that might seem a bit odd to our modern sensibilities! Balls away!

That is all!
(I hope the upcoming Xerxes movie looks exactly like the video below!)