“See Here the Conquering Hero Comes” by George Friedrich Handel

  • 0:14 – A
  • 0:29 – B
  • 0:44 – A
  • 0:59 – A
  • 1:13 – A
  • 1:29 – A
  • 1:43 – B
  • 1:58 – A
  • 2:14 – B
  • 2:29 – B
  • 2:44 – B
  • 3:00 – C (Coda)

The above presented column is the reflection of the change of ideas in the piece of music “See Here the Conquering Hero Comes” by George Friedrich Handel. As the representative of the Baroques style in music, Handel used the technique of the numerous repetitions in his pieces of art. Another typical feature of this composer is the gradual introduction of new percussion or string instruments in order to create the effect of a march. “See Here the Conquering Hero Comes” is not an exception from this rule. Handel uses the initial interchange of A and B ideas in order to catch the listener’s attention, but then repeats slightly modified A ideas up to the middle of the piece. Then again, the interchange of ideas, this time B and A ones, takes place, and is followed by the continuous repetition of the B idea up to the end of the piece. Finally, the piece “See Here the Conquering Hero Comes” is closed by the C idea which can be referred to as the Coda ending. At this point, all the instruments used, including flutes, bassoons, violins, cellos, oboes, French horns, double bass, harpsichord and organ, are introduced simultaneously that creates a pompous and impressive final idea of the piece.

As for the use of dynamics in this artwork, Handel is known for his emotionally colored pieces of music, especially if the specificity of the extraordinary period of Baroque is taken into consideration. In “See Here the Conquering Hero Comes”, which is actually the part of the “Judas Maccabaeus” oratorio, Handel implements drastic shifts of dynamics interchanging the calm parts performed in string instruments and wind ones with those where trumpets, percussions and cellos are added. Together with the substantial increase in tempo of the piece, these dynamic changes are easily comprehended. Moreover, to achieve the unity of the ideas at the initial and final parts of “See Here the Conquering Hero Comes”, Handel uses the same timbre in all those ideas. As for the variety of ideas, the timbre shift is used by Handel as a marker of the new idea being introduced.

Finally, the uniformity and variety of the ideas presented by Handel in “See Here the Conquering Hero Comes” can be explained by the title of the piece and its implications. From the title it is obvious that a piece should reflect the heroic events in the oratorio mentioned above. Accordingly, the use of numerous trumpet sounds and fanfares combined with the Coda ending of the piece contributes to the heroic impression it makes upon the listeners. Thus, for example, the initial idea of the piece, as well as the subsequently repeated ones, tends to prepare the listener to the coming of the hero. At the same time, the Coda ending of “See Here the Conquering Hero Comes” is the statement of the fact that the hero is here and all the celebration observed in the piece of music is in his honor. The wide variety of the instruments used, ideas implied and dynamics and timbre changes observed, prove this point of view once again.

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