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!)

“Presidents Day” Should Be a Celebration of Deeds, Not Power

Today was Presidents Day. Every time this holiday rolls around I am reminded of an editorial piece I read several years ago in the local Akron Beacon Journal which brought up an important concept about this national holiday and its poorly chosen title. Though I had a basic understanding about the history of this federally observed holiday, sadly the ideas brought up in this newspaper article hadn’t struck me fully until after its reading.

As I’m sure most of us know, originally Presidents Day was not called “Presidents Day,” but rather a celebration of George Washington’s birthday. This of course is indeed a noble cause for celebration. George Washington was a father of our nation, leader of our homegrown revolution, and first president of our free nation. There is no one, even in todays poisonous political environment, who would argue that a recognized celebration of the life of George Washington would be out of order as a nationwide observance. Likewise, there was at one time a celebration of the birth of Abraham Lincoln. The leader of our nation who struggled to maintain our union throughout a divisive and bloody civil war. President Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves, undoing the shameful practice which lingered far too long in this country. Though the legitimacy of exulting our 16th president might be in question by the last of our country’s hold-out idiot bigots, the majority of our citizens understand the importance of this influential and important president.

Two separate celebrations for two separately extraordinary leaders of the United States. However at some point in history (I’m not a facts guru, go look it up) it was deemed that two days off was one too many, and the celebrations of Washington and Lincoln were combined into a single observance called Presidents Day. Which, under that broad title thusly diminishes the honor of the individual men previously heralded. Essentially, in the mind of the general public, Presidents Day became the sweeping celebration of a position of power, and not the celebration of the wise few who have wielded such power with great distinction.

Calvin Coolidge, Richard Nixon, George W. Bush. As I recall these were not popular men in our nations history, or at least they each had very troubled moments during their reigns, in terms of popularity. Whatever your political views are, or your personal views of the aforementioned three presidents, it is safe to say that none of that trio will ever be revered as a great watermark in American political history.

I guess what I’m getting at is that regardless of how your political stance leans or how terrible our modern political environment might seem it is important to remember that there were a few select Presidents of the United States who performed truly great deeds and exhibited the qualities needed to induce a nations veneration. Those are the individuals we should be celebrating on Presidents Day, I would suggest we change the title to “Awesome Presidents Day” or perhaps “Above Average Presidents Day” I just have a problem with lumping them all together in a single uninformed observance. Although I can not remember the author of that commentary from my local newspaper I am thankful I read it, and was thusly inspired to remember the important aspects of this national holiday. So take a moment to think about what your country might be like without the two gentlemen seen below.

That is all!

George Washington and Abraham Lincoln: American Legends