On this day in classical music: George Friderich Handel’s oratorio “Messiah” received its premiere in Dublin in 1742. Of his more than two dozen oratorios, “Messiah” is clearly the best known, largely for its rousing “Hallelujah Chorus.” The oratorio’s text deals with the coming of Christ, his birth, his message of redemption and his crucifixion. Portions of “Messiah” are regularly performed at Christmas and Easter.
On this day in the musical theatre: Four years before Mary Martin made the role of Peter Pan her own, the other “Peter Pan” opened on Broadway. Featuring music and lyrics by Leonard Bernstein, this rarely-heard version of Sir James Barrie’s classic tale featured Jean Arthur as Peter Pan and Boris Karloff as Mr. Darling and Captain Hook. Only a half dozen songs were released on the original cast recording, although Bernstein composed a good deal of underscoring and music for scene changes. A 2005 studio cast recording of Bernstein’s score proved to be a revelation for musical theater fans.
Theatrical musings: (Bernstein’s) score is delightfully tuneful, on the whole appropriate as an attempt to musicalize the famous story, sparkling with the genius of the man who would later go on not only to write the epoch-making ‘West Side Story,’ but dazzle the world with his brilliance on so many levels that today any young musician must study, understand, and form an opinion of this complex , almost offensively gifted human being. – Daniel Felsenfield.