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Good MusicWhat It Is and Who Gets to Decide$
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John J. Sheinbaum

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226593241

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226593418.001.0001

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Original: Handel Historiography and the Horizontal Remix

Original: Handel Historiography and the Horizontal Remix

(p.183) 6 Original: Handel Historiography and the Horizontal Remix
Good Music

John J. Sheinbaum

University of Chicago Press

The reception surrounding George Frideric Handel represents a fascinating case study in historiography. In the generation after his death, Handel was held in extremely high esteem and valued in important new ways that laid the intellectual groundwork for the construction of a musical canon. Nineteenth-century reception showed a striking reversal grounded in Handel’s borrowing from other composers; such cognitive dissonance surrounding a canonic composer dominated much thinking about Handel well into the twentieth century. More recently, approaches to Handel’s music have changed once more, using understandings of Handel’s historical context to focus on intertextual, functional, and performative issues rather than the morality of borrowings. Yet throughout this fluid history, the crux for engaging with Handel’s music has centered around the deeply held musical value of originality. Handel’s compositions are excellent candidates to reconsider from contemporary perspectives such as the cultural commons, and the remixing of earlier works by others. The explosion of creativity hastened by digital tools that allow for the intersection of previous expressions, commentary, and new expressions is fundamentally similar to the creative processes at the heart of Handel’s work.

Keywords:   borrowing, canon, context, cultural commons, George Frideric Handel, historiography, originality, reception, remixing

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