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Spring 2018 Season

Judas Maccabaeus

Recommendations for listening recordings ~

• There is an absolutely fabulous recording on iTunes directed by Jurgen Budday. If you want to purchase a recording of Judas, this is it!

• YouTube also has a wonderful version of the complete oratorio as

Be mindful that Jurgen Budday tends to take the choruses like a bat out of hell! Don’t fret, yours truly will NOT take them that fast.

Rehearsal material (CyberBass)

Also, we will not sing the entire oratorio: I’m not wanting folks to begin screaming “Stop, I confess!” My plan is to cut significantly, probably about 50% since the whole thing is over 2.5 hours!!


Here’s some historical background for the story of Judas Maccabaeus taken from the new Novello edition of the work that I believe you’ll find interesting…………

The Maccabean Revolt in the second century B.C. provided the background to the story unfolded in Judas Maccabaeus. It is part of the history of the Ptolemaic and Se- leucid Empires.

Following the death of Alexander the Great in Babylon in 323 B.C., his empire disin- tegrated. When his own descendants were unable to succeed him effectively, the king- dom went to his Generals. Two of these were Ptolemy, who assumed the Kingship of Egypt, and Seleucus, who established himself first as master of Babylonia, and later of the northern part of Syria, where he made Antioch his capital.

Palestine initially remained under Ptolemy, but by 198 B.C., in the reign of Anti- ochus the Great, Palestine was finally conquered by the Syrians. Under Antiochus the Jews were favorably treated, but. later, under his successor Antiochus IV, the Jewish people suffered great hardship. Like Alexander the Great, he sought to impose both a common Greek culture and its religion (Hellenism) on his empire. In 169 B.C. Jerusalem was attacked. In 167 B.C. Jewish religious customs were forbidden, the Temple was defiled and pagan rites were instituted.

There followed a rebellion led by Mattathias, a priest of the Joarib family from Jerusalem who had settled in Modin. It was continued by his sons John, Simon, and Judas Maccabaeus, Eleazar, and Jonathan after Mattathias’ death in 161 B.C.

Having dealt with the appointment of Judas as the military leader of the nation, Morell (the writer of the libretto for the oratorio) takes the story, in a condensed form, down to 164 B.C., when Judas marched on Jerusalem and regained the Temple for the Jews; subsequently the Temple was purified and reconsecrated. Further wars were fought by the armies of Judas and his brothers during the reigns of Antiochus IV and Antiochus V, but these were not recorded with historical accuracy in the libretto: Judas’ victory as outlined in Part III of the oratorio is a fanciful amalgam.

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