Local author explores the little-known story of Handel’s Messiah

Tiny Township author’s latest novel depicts opposition to famous Christmas play

With maybe that of Tchaikovsky Nutcracker, it is arguably the most famous piece of Christmas music.

But there is a larger and untold story behind the rich Christmas tradition for many to attend performances or listen to George Frederick Handel’s masterpiece. Messiah.

And that’s something local author Barrie Doyle explores in his latest book, Musick for the King, a historical novel.

“It’s a fascinating story,” said Doyle, a journalist by trade, who now lives near Balm Beach in Tiny Township and works as an author and public relations / crisis management specialist.

Before the pandemic, Doyle often enjoyed attending performances at Roy Thomson Hall of the popular play which not only features the famous Hallelujah Chorus, but also many inspiring and splendid solo voices and booming choirs, all of which combine to mark Christmas. in the minds of those who attend.

But while the music might be sublime, bringing it onto the concert stage proved quite difficult for Handel.

“I remember about 10 to 15 years ago reading about the difficulties Handel faced when writing the article,” Doyle recalled, noting that he had decided a few years ago that this relatively unknown story would be fascinating read.

And so, he began the process of meticulously researching the story behind the story and began to write.

“There were two things that jumped out at me (including) how he overcame all kinds of issues and issues, some on his own and some outside,” Doyle said.

Doyle said his work of fiction, which he notes is 85% faithful to what really happened, shows what can be overcome through persistence.

“You can overcome even what seems like the worst,” Doyle said, noting that it’s amazing how Handel was able to create the full 2.5-hour piece in just 24 days. “You aren’t finished even when you’re downstairs.”

Every aspect of the story, from personal stories to the creeping opposition to the work and its performances, to objections to the key soloist, comes to life.

Doyle said the novel reads like a modern report, but is actually set in the mid-18th century.

“People are going to like him because he’s a quirky guy, but he’s also a funny guy,” Doyle said, noting that many themes explored in the novel during Handel’s day are similar to those in Handel’s time. ‘today, such as celebrity sex scandals, political opposition to certain aspects. the creative process and the concept that strangers might not be welcome.

“So that reflects today’s society,” said Doyle, who playfully remembers an incident involving Handel and one of his lead singers he had an argument with.

“She wouldn’t sing the song the way he wanted, so he actually held her out the window until she agreed to do it his way.” She said, ‘Handel, you really are a devil.’

“He said:” Madam, I am not a very devil, I am Beelzebub himself.

Prior to this novel, Doyle wrote the Oak Grove Plots Trilogy that began with The Excalibur parchment.

Music for the King is available for purchase online at Doyle’s website and at Georgian Bay Books in Midland, The Reading Room in Penetanguishene and Manticore Books in Orillia. It is also available on Audible.

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