This song is an excerpt from a song called Largo, written by George Frideric Handel way back in 1738. And it took a hundred years for it to catch on. It just goes to show you, doesn’t it? What exactly that is I am not sure. I’m just saying.
This is the fifth song by Handel that I have posted while going through the Big Book of Classical Music. And I haven’t posted anything yet by Haydn, Strauss, Verdi, or Mozart. But they are coming up.
Learning about the history that goes along with this music has been a very informative experience. I had no idea that Handel had written an opera that failed. He handled the disappointment well.
According to wikipedia, Handel’s Largo” is the popular title for an aria composed by George Frideric Handel. He wrote it in 1738 for the opera Serse (English: Xerxes). The opera was a failure. It closed after only five performances. One hundred years later though the aria was resurrected. It became a big hit. It was performed at solemn occasions such as funerals and weddings. It was arranged for all sorts of instruments and voices. It is known by many people as “Ombra mai fu” because those words are the first words of the aria. The title is Italian and means “Never was a shade”. The aria is sung by the main character, Xerxes I of Persia. He is admiring the shade of a tree. The original tempo is larghetto (a little slow and solemn). The aria is short. It is only 52 bars long. It lasts about four minutes. In the opera, a string section accompanies the singer. These strings are first and second violins, viola, and basses. The key signature is F major. The time signature is 3/4 time.