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Musical Festival

festivals, orchestra, conductor and chorus

MUSICAL FESTIVAL. The performance of sonic- large choral or orchestral work with a very large chorus or orchestra. The real era of musical festivals begins with the festival perform ances of the great Handel Commemoration held from 1784 to 17S7 and again in 1791. It is true that previous to this time regular musical festi vals were held in England; hut they were prac tically unknown on the Continent. In England choral singing had always been more extensively cultivated than in any other European country, and the efficiency of English choirs led Handel to turn his attention in the direction of writing for large choral bodies in his oratorios. Since the first performance of the Messiah in 1749 it has remained a custom in London to perform that work with greatly augumented chorus and orchestra every year at Christmas. These performances on a grand scale in the English capital roused a feeling of national pride in the Germans, who felt that the great master belonged to them by birth. Festival performances of Handers ora torios were first given in Berlin on the London plan and were imitated in other German cities. Soon the works of other composers we're per formed in a similar manner. And as on such occasions there was always a large orchestra, it was but natural that this body of instrumental ists was utilized in the performance of large orchestral works. Thus at the beginning of the nineteenth century SON eral organizations devoting their energies to the production of any great work, whether eboral or purely instrumental, sprang into existenee in various parts of Ger many. Among these the oldest and even to-day

mast famous are the Gesellschaft drr Musik frrunde in Vienna and the Yirderrheinische sikfeste, which take place yearly in some city of the Lower Rhine District. The United States has not been behind in following the example of England and Germany. and many festivals are held almost yearly in several of the larger cities. On such occasions it is nothing unusual to find a chorus numbering from one to Iwo thousand voices and an orchestra of from one to two hundred per formers. These musical festivals also pow erfully affected the mode of conducting and have done very much toward establishing the universal custom of conducting by means of the 'triton. Whereas formerly the conductor always presided at the piano, the handling of large bodies of sing ers and players necessitated the undivided atten tion of the conductor upon those whom he di rected: and the singers, in turn, became likewise more dependent 'upon signs and gestures from the conductor. (See CONDUCTOR.) For an of the principal musieal festivals, see BAYREUTH MUSICAL FESTIVAL; BETHLEHEM FES TIVAL; CINCINNATI MUSICAL FESTIVAL: CE sELLSCIIAFT DER OSTERREICHISCIIEN FREI' NDE GEWANDHArStoNCERTE ; LEEDS "MUSI