Well, well, I must admit that I expected Händel one of the last composers to be interested in Alexander the Great! His interpretation of history is apparently reflected by his own time-frame, making Thais Alexander’s mistress.
The piece is set at
where Alexander organizes a banquet
that is being enhanced by songs and lyre-playing by his court-musician Timotheus, a famous aulos (double-flute) player. After taking Alexander through different moods, the music finally leads to the
burning of the Persepolis Palace of Persepolis to revenge his soldiers who died in
the conquest of . Persia
The work was composed by Händel in January 1736 and premiered at
Garden a month later. It was a great success and eventually led
Händel to writing English choral works instead of the Italian operas as he had
done till then.
I found this highly praised performance of the entire work on YouTube.
For those who want to watch closely how the story according to Händel evolves, the lyrics can be found on this link.
I’m convinced that even in his wildest dreams Alexander would never have expected to hear his beloved lyre occupying such a prominent place in a composition written two centuries after his death!