"Judas Maccabaeus" (HWV 63) is an oratorio in three
acts composed in 1746 by George Frideric Handel based
on a libretto written by Thomas Morell. The oratorio
was devised as a compliment to the victorious Prince
William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland upon his return
from the Battle of Culloden (16 April 1746). Other
catalogues of Handel's music have referred to the work
as HG xxii; and HHA 1/24. Morell's libretto is based on
the deuterocanonical 1 Maccabees (2-8), with motives
added from the Antiquitates Judaicae by Flavius
The events depicted in the oratorio are from the period
170-160 BC when Judea was ruled by the Seleucid Empire
which undertook to destroy the Jewish religion. Being
ordered to worship Zeus, many Jews obeyed under the
threat of persecution, however some did not. One who
defied was the elderly priest Mattathias who killed a
fellow Jew who was about to offer a pagan sacrifice.
After tearing down a pagan altar, Mattathias retreated
to the hills and gathered others who were willing to
fight for their faith.
Although originally written for Opera, I created this
arrangement for Woodwind Quartet (Flute, Oboe, Bb
Clarinet and Bassoon).