Alexander's Feast, or the Power of Music Background

Alexander's Feast, or the Power of Music Background

Alexander's Feast, or the Power of Music is an ode authored by John Dryden. It was written in 1967 in celebration of Saint Cecelia's day. The original ode was set to music by the musician Jeremiah Clarke, but, due to the relative obscurity at the time and the fact that it was created more that four centuries ago, the score is now lost.

The ode, more commonly referred to as a poem, is a historical one. The majority of the text recounts the feast that Alexander the Great hosts at Persepolis, the Persian capital, in celebration of his defeat of Darius. It also recounts the story of a bard who manipulated Alexander into burning down what he had worked so hard to create. Other that this, the poem moves back and forth through time and recounts details at both of these.

Years after the poem was created, George Frideric Handel crafted a work of song that was based on this ode by Dryden. Handel's work was also entitled Alexander's Feast. This song was set to the sound of a liberetto that was created by Newburgh Hamilton for this sole purpose. Overall, the poem is considered a masterful work, and has been praised for almost the entirety of the time that it has been in publication.

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