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This article examines the early writings of one of Handel’s English librettists, Newburgh Hamilton. It describes what seems to be Hamilton’s first publication, the little-studied Tory satire The Changes (1711), sets it alongside other early publications and biographical details, and reads this material alongside two of Hamilton’s librettos for Handel, Alexander’s Feast (1736) and Samson (1743). Hamilton’s early writings are approached less as contexts for the oratorios than as texts with their own interest, and as intertexts to be set in dialogue with later productions. The article seeks to contribute to debate over the politics of Handel’s vocal music, debate provoked not least by the difficulties of defining the sphere and meanings of politics in eighteenth-century culture, and of conceptualizing the collaborative endeavours and multiple sites of composition, patronage, business, performance and reception that make up Handel’s oratorios.


Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry

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Journal Article

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